The movement of disabled people, experiencing the exclusion imposed upon disabled people by environment and society on a daily basis, is claiming the fundamental right to access to infrastructure, services and goods.
Disabled people's right of access to culture, tourism and entertainment should be addressed by the State and all stakeholders as a basic human right, directly related to their quality of life and ability to participate in social activities. Furthermore, in accordance with article 21, para 6 of the Constitution of Greece "Disabled persons have a right to benefit from measures ensuring their autonomy, professional integration and participation in the social, economic and political life of our Country", whereas by virtue of article 30 of the UN International Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities ratified by Greece with Law 4074/2012 (OGG 88A/11.04.2012), thereby making it part of its national legislation, state parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to tourism venues and services.
In the framework of the promotion of "Tourism for all" or "Accessible Tourism", the National Confederation of Disabled People in Greece took the initiative and, along with the Municipality of Rethymno from the Greek side, and the Municipality of Ayia Napa from the Cypriot side, designed and are jointly implementing the "Ayia Napa - Rethymno": Universally Accessible Cities" Project, which is part of the Cross-border Cooperation Programme "Greece - Cyprus 2007 - 2013".
Some innovative aspects of the Project:
- Improving the accessibility to historical sites of tourist interest, such as the Fortezza Fortress in Rethymno and the Makronisos tombs in Ayia Napa;
- Applying universal accessibility, that is to say, providing access to infrastructure, services and information at the same time to people with disabilities; and
- Making use of the latest electronic applications for the benefit of people with disabilities, either as tourists or as residents of the intervention areas, or as employees in the Tourism Sector.
A large part of people with disabilities, our fellow citizens and tourists from all over the world, could visit the two Municipalities, provided that they can find information on the accessibility of attractions, hotels, restaurants, cultural sites and related services. This Travel Guide serves this purpose, providing important information on the two municipalities' tourism infrastructure and services considered suitable for visitors with various types of disabilities.
The Guide aims to be a useful tool for tourists with disabilities (people with mobility, sensory and other disabilities) and their families, residents with disabilities of the municipalities (temporary or permanent), the elderly and "mobility impaired people" in general.
It is our hope and wish that this Project will serve as an example of good practice to allow the opportunity for the implementation of similar Projects that could be of benefit to people with disabilities as tourists or candidates employees in the tourism services sector, the elderly, as well as any other blocked person, contributing in this way to the promotion of social inclusion of people with disabilities and the strengthening of social cohesion.
President of the National
Confederation of Disabled People, Greece