In 2013 we were documenting for a European tourism project and learned that there was a market called “accessible tourism”. We were fascinated by everything we read that it has been done for a long time in the world (including in countries where we would not have thought that there could be such a thing!) for people with disabilities, seniors or families travelling with young children.
As we documented, we realized that it was a market segment with extremely high potential, because the world’s ageing population has a rapid dynamic and is accompanied by the emergence of chronic health conditions, physical or mental disability. The studies showed that people over 55 years old in developed countries have made savings during working life, which they are eager to use to travel because they have little financial obligations and long enough time to enjoy long holidays. In order to ensure that the positive experience of the journey is not affected, the services provided to this group must be adapted and appropriate for the particular vulnerability of each tourist.
Studies also showed that there is an expected increase in the number of people with disabilities or limited capacity due to accidents at work or roads, age, war, plus an increase in the number of people suffering from reduced capacity – hidden disabilities such as diabetes or cancer, for example. Studies also showed that a disabled person from the West goes on holiday at least once a year and, if he finds sufficient and appropriate information on accessibility, travels with family members or friends. In most cases, a disabled tourist travels with at least one attendant; from the perspective of suppliers in the tourism chain, this means double consumption, so opportunities for business growth.
We have decided that this potential market needs to be exploited. We had colleagues with experience in tourism and there was the rich national resource called “Balneary Tourism” with which resonated the children of the 1950s from Europe and Israel. We could therefore approach the “Silver Tourism” segment while exploring and assimilating as much information and training as possible about disability and tourism for people with disabilities. One thing was clear: we must open up Romania Accessible to the rest of the world.
In December 2014, we took the risk, bet on accessible tourism and officially appeared Sano Touring as licensed tour operator.
With a lot of patience, perseverance and confidence that we are on the right track, confirmed also by the partners abroad and the tourists we organised the trip, we managed to place Romania on the global map of accessible tourism and, with each tourist we welcome at Otopeni Airport in Bucharest or elsewhere in the country, we learn something new about accessible tourism – a special, challenging and rewarding field.
6 years later, we are active members of ENAT and other relevant global accessible travel networks such as Destination Everywhere or Accessible Travel Press, we are part of EU projects as partners or associates, and rebranded as Accessible Romania by Sano Touring.
We could not reach this point without a team of great professionals who joined and supported our vision.
Irina ensures that each and every location we include in our programs are inclusive, and she is always ready to recommend each tourist tailor-made options for the uniqueness of his special needs. With love for Romania and passion for tourism, she designs tourist programs, maintains the best relations with partners in the country and abroad, and carefully organizes every action. Her extraordinary communication skills and the positive attitude helps in finding the most suitable solutions in critical circumstances.
Extremely well trained professionally, energetic, flexible, sociable and communicative leaders, the guides with which we collaborate (among them – Diana, Andrei and Igor) ensure that our tourists enjoy the most of local experiences and remain with pleasant memories.
Whether it’s just a transfer from the airport or a two-week tour through the country, Iulian is the one who drives our tourists behind the wheel of Crafty – our adapted minibus that can carry at least two wheelchair users. Prudent, respectful and jovial, he ensures that the planned program is respected, that tourists benefit from all the comfort on long routes sometimes and, together with our colleague guides, give Irina permanent feedback on the places visited and the impressions of tourists.
Marius ensures that our online presence is accessible to all, modern, attractive, active and targeted to the audience to whom we address, Smaranda supports us through the originality with which she creates the inclusive design of the materials that represent us, while (the other) Andrei makes sure the pdf documents we generate are accessible.
Dragoș supports us through the professional services offered by his law firm, and (the other) Marius ensures that our accounting and human resources policies are properly conducted.
We have been active internationally, and not only formed partnerships and joined networks, but we are also included in EU Projects as either partners or best practices examples.
We made Accessible Romania recognized globally – our voice is heard and listened to, and we have the resources and the will to actively contribute to any initiative that supports tourism and accessible travel.