Intensive course “Social tourism – Today and Tomorrow”
International School of Law and Business together with international partners from Turiba University (Latvia) and Tampere University of Applied Sciences (Finland) implemented the intensive course “Social tourism – Today and Tomorrow” on March 27-31, 2017. The course was financed by Nordplus programme.
The main aims of the project were as follows:
– to identify the concept of social tourism;
– to review the social tourism situation in the Baltic-Nordic region as well as global tendencies;
– to present popular itineraries suited for challenged travellers in Baltic-Nordic region (to visit the destinations suited for the disabled tourist in Vilnius Old town, in Telšiai and Anykščiai);
– to discuss the challenges of social tourism and inclusion of disabled persons into tourism policy formation and implementation.
The lectures were given by lecturers from Turiba University (Latvia) and Tampere University of Applied Sciences (Finland). The project was dedicated to students of tourism from Lithuania, Latvia and Finland, moreover it also included the representatives from Lithuanian Association of People with Disabilities who struggle the challenges of mobility.
Therefore, after the completion of the project, we would like to present the findings of the project to the State Tourism Department and suggest the following:
- To improve the qualification of a guide by including specific topics on how to organise the excursions with disabled tourists in a group to the programme of guide training which is approved by the State Tourism Department. The sample guide training programme modules comprise “Communication and Rhetorics of a Guide” and “Basics of Communication Psychology”, therefore they might be complemented with few socially responsible topics on how to deal with a disabled person not only from the psychological aspect, but also paying attention to his/her physical capabilities. For example: if there are wheel chaired tourists in a group, then the guide should plan the time otherwise, take a slower pace because wheel chaired tourists need more time to move from place to place; a guide should plan the itinerary according to the level of its complicity and accessibility to everybody; moreover, physical environment must be considered as well, the wheel chaired tourists sit lower and the words of a guide cannot be heard properly or the object demonstrated by a guide cannot be seen from a wheel chair due to the same reason.
- To consider the seasonality of the elevators. Some places are simply inaccessible for the disabled tourists due to seasonal work of the elevators. Thus, the disabled tourists are discriminated as well as senior travellers and parents with babies.
- To encourage the tourism companies to provide more exact and detailed information about the infrastructure for the disabled visitors. Sadly, but not all companies provide information about the accessibility for wheel chairs, visually impaired persons or likewise in their websites. It is worth mentioning the absence of information signs in physical environment. Therefore the destination remains unknown, it deters visitors, and thus the image of the country is diminished.
- To encourage newly established business to apply universal design principles – what is fitted for the weakest will fit the strongest.