Portugal has received the first-ever Accessible Tourist Destination (ATD) award, a new honour the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Spain’s Fundaciόn ONCE forged to recognize cities, regions and countries where all visitors are welcome, able to find required services and experience local culture and attractions. The inaugural award was conveyed earlier this week at the 40th annual International Tourism Fair in Madrid.
“The organizations want to value the destinations that make an important effort so that they can be enjoyed by any tourist, regardless of their physical, sensory or cognitive abilities,” says UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili.
The ATD awards jury cited Portugal’s commitment to accessibility on a general national level and a particular emphasis in the tourism sector to develop and implement universal products and services. Rita Marques, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism accepted the specially-created trophy, depicting “the door to adventure” — Spanish artist Cristόbal Gabarrόn’s sculpted interpretation of the values of opening the way for all to enjoy travel, nature, culture and friendship.
Two cities — Barcelona, Spain and Thrissur, India — also earned special mentions from the ATD jury. Barcelona’s accommodations, catering establishments and transportation factored into the jury’s assessment that it is “really advanced in terms of accessibility”. Thrissur was identified as an “emerging destination” where there is strong civic commitment to improving and furthering accessibility.