|Photo 1: Simon Darcy, Rome and Italy Tours' specialist ArcheoTrekAble equipment and people power provided an up close look at Ancient Rome's archaeological digs that would not be possible in a standard wheelchair (© Fiona Darcy 2012)|
Thanks to Ivor Ambrose's networking efforts with the ENAT, I received a range of publicity opportunities including those with mainstream media and disability specific media. Barbara Pianca of the Superando organisation interviewed me in the lead up to the trip and carried a story on the organisation's website. The interview focused on travel planning and accessibility for tourism. This theme was further developed by the Foundation of the Carlo Besta Neurological Institute who provided an opportunity for me to discuss the importance of tourism within the rehabilitation process for people who acquire disabilities. The Foundation does some excellent work and has always incorporated arts and sport within the rehabilitation process and it is now hoping to incorporate opportunities for people to travel while still in rehabilitation. The Foundation's Secretary Professor Ferdinando Cornelio hosted a media and business event where I was interviewed by mainstream print and television media on a range of matters including rehabilitation, Expo 2015 to be held in Milan and accessible tourism knowledge management processes that could be put in place to improve the tourism opportunities for people with disability. A video of the interviews by the journalists from the Corriere.TV can be found at the following site Video Salute - Corriere TV
|Figure 1: Village for All logo|
As Figure 2 demonstrates, the accommodation information system is detailed and provides critical measurements. This system very much operationalises research discussed in other blog entries on accessible accommodation based on research in Europe and Australia (Darcy & Cameron, 2008; Darcy, 2010; Europe for All. 2007a, 2007b) It is also very similar to a recent exploratory project carried out for the City of Sydney and presented on Easy Access Australia's website (http://www.easyaccessaustralia.com.au/sydney/).
|Figure 2: Room floor plans for V4A properties|
Lastly, research has shown that people with disability do not trust mainstream travel agents and tourism operators as mainstream providers do not understand the requirements of people with disability (e.g. McKercher, Packer & Yau, 2003). Subsequently people with disability have organised and managed their own travel plans and itineraries to a much higher degree than people without disability. However, those who to manage their own travel planning miss out on many of the discounts and insider advantages of using industry providers. Language provided a barrier which was restricting my own travel planning for this trip. After some searching, I settled on Rome and Italy Tourist Services to assist with land transport connections and specialist accessible tour provision (http://www.romeanditaly.com/tourselected.php?id=10). As shown in Photo 1, Stefano Sghinolfi CEO and Owner of Rome and Italy Tourist Services is trialling equipment to provide a more up close and personal experience of Rome's ancient historical sites. It is this type of innovation that I was drawn to and can attest was only part of the excellent service provision of the company^.
Over the coming weeks I will be reflecting upon other aspects of the trip including accessible tourism knowledge management systems, air travel, accommodation choice, attractions, transport, customer service attitudes and accessible destination experiences.
^ please note all services were purchased at standard market rates and the tour operators did not know that I would be reviewing product and service offerings.
Darcy, S., & Cameron, B. (2008). Accessible Accommodation Assessment Template [Software template]. Sydney: © University of Technology, Sydney and Easy Access Australia.
Darcy, S. (2010). Inherent complexity: Disability, accessible tourism and accommodation information preferences. Tourism Management, 31(6), 816-826.
Europe for All. (2007a). The Europe for all Photo and Measurement Guide Vol. 2008. (pp. Website). Retrieved from http://www.europeforall.com/tourismProviders.seam?conversationPropagation=end&conversationId=162076
Europe for All. (2007b). The Europe for all Self-Assessment Questionnaire Vol. 2008. (pp. Website). Retrieved from http://www.europeforall.com/tourismProviders.seam?conversationPropagation=end&conversationId=162076
European Network for Accessible Tourism. (2012). Accessibility and tourism seminar at the Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca 9 July 2012 Retrieved 28 July, 2012, from http://www.accessibletourism.org/?i=enat.en.events.1338
McKercher, B., Packer, T., Yau, M. K., & Lam, P. (2003). Travel agents as facilitators or inhibitors of travel: perceptions of people with disabilities. Tourism Management, 24(4), 465-474.
Parrot, M., & Passerini, G. (2012, 25 July). Disabili e turismo - Girare il mondo è la prima forma di riabilitazione Corriere Della Serra - Corriere TV. Retrieved from http://video.corriere.it/se-turismo-aiuta-disabili-uscire-ghetto/131d40b0-d675-11e1-bdd2-f78a37bd7a67