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 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 traveling with young children.
As we documented, we realized that it was a market segment with high potential due to the world’s aging population having a rapid dynamic, accompanied by the emergence of chronic health conditions, physical or mental disability.
The studies showed that people over 55 years old in developed countries made savings during their working life and are eager to invest in traveling due to little financial obligations and enough time to enjoy long holidays. 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 show 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. Due to studies, we have learned that a disabled person living in developed countries goes on holiday at least once a year. If he/she finds sufficient and appropriate information on accessibility, he/she will travel with family members or friends.
In most cases, a disabled tourist travels with at least one attendant; therefore we had to consider the wellbeing of all the tourists. We had to be sure that all the trips and all accommodations would be equipped accordingly. This is something we checked in person.
We had colleagues with experience in tourism and there was the rich national resource called “Balneary Tourism” with which resonated with 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 a licensed tour operator.
True values are at the core of our actions
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 organized 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.