A.L.L is an example of integrated tourism policy developed with local SMEs to promote accessible, age friendly and sustainable tourism in rural areas.
The A.L.L. project aimed at encouraging accessible tourism with SMEs with a threefold approach:
• increasing the knowledge about accessible tourism, developing tourism SMEs’ skills and supporting them in adapting their services to the requirements of tourists with different access need
• strengthening cooperation between local public administrations, tourism SMEs and organisations working on cultural heritage
• valorising Lombard cultural heritage by making it more accessible to all in the cross-border region between Italy and Slovenia
Local authorities, SMEs of the tourism sector and cultural heritage organisations worked together to understand to the potential demand of rural tourism in the Lombards Lands. The study revealed a huge potential for cultural tourism in this rural region but poor access for older people, among others, who need adapted tourism products in terms of mobility assistance or food regime (larger parking lots, ramps, attentive staff, low-sugar food options etc.)
Partners therefore organised meetings with SMEs and public authorities in charge of tourism issues to raise awareness on accessibility in the sector. Partners organised training sessions for local tourism operators; from February to May 2017, more than 80 SMEs from the tourism sector attended trainings to learn more about accessible tourism and how to meet the needs of customers, in particular older people. Training materials are also available online on A.L.L’s website.
The project was co-funded by the COSME Programme of the European Union under Grant Agreement n.: 699425-A.L.L.-COS-TOUR-2015-3-04/COS-TOUR-2015-3-04-1
Evidence of success
More than 200 SMEs involved and alerted on the needs of persons with accessibility issues and trained to adapt their offer. 93 tourism facilities involved in the targeted areas (hotels, restaurants etc.) Training tourism SMEs in the region enabled the creation of 3 accessible itineraries in the Lombards Lands in Italy and Slovenia. It was showcased as EU good practice during the 2019 EU tourism conference.
Potential for learning or transfer
A.L.L is a good example of successful initiative to develop accessible tourism offers from SMEs of the sector. These SMEs are the direct beneficiaries, through training sessions, but with indirect benefits for older people, as end-users.
Training SMEs of the tourism sector to develop more adapted services, including in rural and mountainous areas, can strengthen their competitiveness. Moreover, attracting tourists in these regions has positive impacts on other sectors and SMEs, such as restaurants and hotels. It is also a way to promote outdoor and sustainable, yet accessible, tourism.
This model is easily replicable in other regions willing to encourage rural tourism for older people. It possible to subcontract both the market study and the organisation of training sessions to local tourism offices through a public tender. Other regions can already get inspired by the training material made available by A.L.L.
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