Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility

Wheelchair-accessible tours in Amazonia, the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu

Together with partners, South America For All (SAFA)– a travel company based in Ecuador – offers tours to various South America destinations that are accessible by wheelchair users. SAFA started as a private initiative and is now expanding to more countries in South America. In 2016 approximately 300 wheelchair users booked tours.

“And I’m happy to say that I was be able to swim because there was an access lift. If you want to swim, just let the staff know and they will attach the sling to the lift. I was somewhat surprised, but thrilled, that there was a pool lift.”

CoryGuest in the Huasquila Amazon Lodge
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Wheelchair-accessible tours in Amazonia, the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu
Organisation:South America For All
Country
of Implementation
Ecuador

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Over the past three years some 320 wheelchair users have used the SAFA tour services

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Being confronted with a wheelchair user who wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands, SAFA developed a dedicated programme for people with disabilities to enjoy prominent sites in South America.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

SAFA has developed a systematic approach to evaluating potential tourist locations, starting with market research and a visit to the most emblematic sites and attractions at the destination. It then performs a disability check of the various locations (including hotels, restaurants, attractions, availability of accessible transport, etc.) and performs tests with off-road wheelchairs and other devices. Finally, they offer and promote the tour.
SAFA has adapted basic equipment (for example, an off-road wheelchair, a manual lift for swimming pools, etc.) such that travellers with wheelchairs can participate even in jungle walks. The company considers every detail of their clients’ physical limitations, and organizes their stay in the light of these. Furthermore, it helps to coordinate accessibility adaptations in some hotels and municipalities.
A group picture of people with different disabilities by the Machu Picchu site.The programme began with the construction of an accessible Eco-Lodge in Amazonia, Ecuador, and extended to tours of the Galapagos Islands. Now SAFA has expanded to such places as Machu Picchu in Peru, the Iguazu waterfalls in Argentina and Brazil, and Ushuaya in Argentina. The increase in disabled tourism flows to such popular tourist attractions also helps to raise awareness in the public and private sectors of the importance of inclusion. Over the last three years approximately 320 wheelchair users from the European Union, the United States, and Israel have paid visits to Amazonia and the Galapagos Islands, and for the last past two years to sights in Peru as well.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

In 2013, a consultation was held with the Ministry of Tourism to develop 5 accessible tourist sites in Ecuador. An assessment was made of the accessibility of tourist services on each of the sites and training was provided jointly A tourist group walking up the Machu Picchu site with a person on the wheelchair using a path with accessibility adaptations.with the Ministry on accessibility topics. This has increased awareness of the subject.
In 2016 disabled tourism to Latin America had an annual growth rate between 5 and 10 per cent. In addition, it has been possible to increase the number of tourist destinations that are accessed to people with disabilities in Latin America mainly by adopting infrastructure.

The project is self-sustaining, and sales are generated from the tours themselves, membership fees, and subscriptions.

FACTSHEET

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