The Ermitage Bel Air Hotel was recently cited in Brussels by officials from Italy’s Veneto Region as an example of a tourism sector operator which has successfully worked to promote accessible tourism.
The “Veneto for All” tourism development project presented in Brussels met with the approval of members of the European Parliament. “Veneto for All” is an initiative which aims to rewrite the rules surrounding hotel stays for both able-bodied and disabled visitors to Italy’s Veneto region. To achieve this aim, the region is working to make tourism accessible to all by eliminating both physical and psychological barriers.
Marino Finozzi, the Veneto Region Councillor responsible for Tourism development, after mentioning key tourism figures – the region attracted more than 62 million overnight stays in 2012 – explained that in addition to having launched the “Veneto for all” initiative, the region has also partnered with Necstour, a network which promotes sustainable, competitive tourism throughout Europe. Necstour also works with the Paris region on the development of accessible tourism. The Veneto region also has a longstanding partnership with Enat, the European network for the promotion of accessible tourism. With Nectour, the region will increase its efforts to lower barriers to tourism.
The Veneto region is working with Europe to make travel easier for a new generation of tourists by bringing together two formerly opposing factions: tourists with disabilities and tour operators. In 2011, with the support of Italy’s government, the Veneto region launched its three-year plan for the “development of accessible and social tourism”. The project goal is to make travel for 120 million Europeans simpler and, at the same time, to help boost annual tourist industry income by several million Euros.
Councillor Finozzi explained how the “Veneto for all” project is to achieve its aims: “We have to work on informing and training tour operators, who must then embrace the challenge and help us to move the project forward by selecting destinations which are accessible to all. We will then highlight those which work best. Tour operators will find the region to be an exceptional partner. In return for the region’s support, operators will be expected to provide offers which meet health, accessibility, and shared spaces requirements. On our part, we have to work to help tourism structures remove barriers of all kinds, and to create new synergies with the private sector so as to make the region ever more accessible to all visitors.”
Finozzi went on to give examples of structures which have achieved excellence in terms of accessibility – structures in which there are no longer differences between disabled and able bodied tourists and which treat all visitors equally because they have reduced barriers to zero. This is exactly what Ermitage Bel Air has achieved with its approach to accessible tourism.
In the Abano area of the Veneto, Ermitage Bel Air stands out as an example of what can be achieved and sets standards in terms of excellence and quality of service for those who need care, those that accompany them, and for other visitors who simply want to visit the Ermitage Bel Air Hotel to enjoy a relaxing break.