With the Rio Paralympics Games, accessible tourism is once again put in the spotlight.
It is a movement that is continuing to grow and is attracting more and more attention from tour operators, agencies and travellers alike, all around the world. Brazil is no exception and the country has worked harder than ever to improve travel options for tourists with disabilities.
Ahead of the Paralympics, the Brazilian government has increased its support of initiatives that increase social inclusion, including developing adventure retreats and barrier-free projects that enable more people to travel to the country and enjoy the natural and cultural wonders of Brazil.
Check out some Brazilian destinations highlighted for its accessible tourism:
Project ‘Beach without Barriers’, Pernambuco
The Pernambuco Tourism Board has implemented projects to improve universal access. The major development was the ‘assisted bath’ on beaches for members of the public with reduced mobility. This involves “amphibious” wheelchairs, removable mats for access to the sand and assistance from qualified professionals, accommodating wheelchair access right into the waters. Currently, the project operates in five Pernambuco beaches, including tourist favourite Fernando de Noronha.
Socorro, São Paulo
The word ‘socorro’ means ‘help’ in Portuguese and the city was given this name to honour the Patron Saint ‘Our Lady of “Perpetuo Socorro.”’ It is fitting therefore that Socorro is a city dedicated to helping people with disabilities. Nearly every hotel in the city – including the renowned Parque dos Sonhos, which has received honours for its provisions for people with disabilities at the renowned World Travel Market in London and awards for its responsible tourism at the World Responsible Tourism Awards – has been adapted to support people with disabilities, with many bars and restaurants offering menus in braille. Public phones offer facilities for people with hearing impairments and over half of the adventure activities offered in Socorro have been adapted to enable those with wheelchairs to participate. As a result of Socorro’s efforts to adopt more accessible forms of tourism, the Ministry of Tourism has listed the city as one of the top 10 accessible tourist destinations in Brazil.
São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia
In recent years, Brazil has also launched a range of unique projects based on sensory experiences for visually impaired tourists. Such ‘sensory tourism’ is a concept than can be seen at Sao Paulo’s Pinacoteca Museum, which allows visitors to touch bronze sculptures and appreciate the size, shape, texture and aesthetic diversity of the artistic works. The Botanical Garden, Rio de Janeiro invites visitors to appreciate the aromas and textures of basil, rosemary, sage and mint seedlings, specially designed to stimulate the senses. Brasilia Zoo also offers walking tours every couple of weeks, where tourists are allowed to touch the animals.