“More than the tourist who comes to make a three-day getaway to know a city, we increasingly have the older tourist, more financial availability to spend and invest in Portugal, which stays longer, so it is important that when they arrive here they can have adapted spaces, technology to support them, accessible restaurants, accessible bathrooms, spaces to move around,” said the government official.
This mobile application, born of a partnership between Inframoura and Marina de Vilamoura, developed by the company My Eyes, is a good example of this bet on accessibility and deserved a positive note from Ana Sofia Antunes: “it is a simple, affordable technology that can be configured with a useful set of information not only for blind people but also for low vision.”
As Pedro Almeida, from the company responsible for this technological solution, explained, the “Inclusive Vilamoura - A city guide for All” application involves the use of GPS points with coordinates outside and inside, beatcon technology, transmitting a Bluetooth signal to the user's mobile phone.
In the future, the idea is to extend to other areas of Vilamoura, such as hotels, golf courses and restaurants, as Vitor Aleixo, mayor of Loulé said. For this person, other areas of the county may also join this technological innovation.
For the mayor of Loulé, as tourism is a fundamental aspect of the local economy, "it would be unthinkable, both humanly and financially, not to try to make our tourism offer more accessible." According to Vitor Aleixo, particularly in Vilamoura, several measures have been taken “in order to become an inclusive and intelligent destination”. In this context, along with the creation of the Vilamoura Nautical Station, which has as one of its main objectives the improvement of accessibility for disabled users, other steps have been taken in view of accessibility in the public space, such as implemented measures that earned the award of accessible beaches to the bathing areas of Vilamoura, Quarteira, Forte Novo, Loulé Velho, Vale do Lobo and Garrão Poente.
Despite the “Accessible Award” awarded to Portugal by the World Tourism Association, which has come to reward “the set of actions developed in recent years”, Ana Sofia Antunes believes that much remains to be done in this matter. For the Secretary of State, besides the importance of putting technology at the service of citizens with disabilities, another dimension in accessibility is fundamental: the breaking of architectural barriers that often impede the movement of people with reduced mobility.
The mayor of Loulé is of the same opinion and, in the case of the municipality of Loulé, believes that there is still “a long way to go in view of the needs that exist”, and the territory is gradually being adapted to these needs as is the case of the intervention that is being carried out at Avenida José da Costa Mealha, the central artery of the city of Loulé, which has as one of its main objectives, improving the circulation of people with mobility difficulties, breaking some existing barriers.