PERLA: Accessibility and safety of beaches on the Mediterranean coast within the framework of territorial cooperation

The PERLA project has facilitated travel to beaches in the four regions of the Mediterranean, by developing the public transport network and putting in place an infrastructure for persons with reduced mobility. It has also worked to ensure seaside safety and visitor information via various communication tools.

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Free shuttle train to beaches in the Tuscany region © Provincia di Livorno Free shuttle train to beaches in the Tuscany region © Provincia di Livorno

" The PERLA project has promoted the development of beach accessibility through an integrated analysis system, the creation of IT tools and the implementation of measures aimed at under-privileged citizens and groups, while fostering long-term tourism and environmental culture in partner countries. "

Irene Nicotra, Transports, ports et logistique, Province of Livorno

The aim of the PERLA project is to guarantee accessibility to seaside areas and ensure safety on beaches along the coast of Tuscany, Sardinia, Liguria and the town of Bastia in Corsica. The beaches in these areas are very busy. However, due to their particular locations, some are difficult to reach and sometimes even potentially dangerous.

Accessibility and safety of beaches through innovative systems

The project has improved access to the coast on two levels. 

Firstly, travel to beaches has been improved thanks to improved public transport and the introduction of shuttle buses (especially free tourist trains in the municipalities of Bibbona, Castagneto Carducci and Cecina in Tuscany). In various communities, pedestrian-only and pedestrian-cycle zones have been introduced, which is a positive for the environment and tourism.

Secondly, after an analysis of the accessibility levels of 54 coastal sites, a plan was put in place to reduce obstacles for persons with reduced mobility. In Bastia, Corsica, streets and public spaces have been adapted and, in particular, the beaches have been equipped with wheelchair platforms and beach wheelchairs. In Italy, the first beach fully equipped for handicapped persons was Marinella, in the town of Sarzana. 

A second objective was to ensure seaside safety. In order to achieve this, a series of sites were analysed and assessed in terms of the stability of rocks, risk of landslides and tides. These technical activities, including geo-referencing, mapping, recording of GPS coordinates, photo documentation and numbering and designation of sites, were carried out by secondary school students. 500 signs compliant with ISO standards were then installed along the coast, indicating site characteristics, potential risks, safety rules and appropriate behaviour. These signs follow a common format to facilitate users’ understanding.

In order to grow and standardise the services available to tourists and inform citizens about accessibility, safety and weather and sea forecasts, innovative systems and avant-garde technologies have been developed with the support of university students. All the information is available online, via SMS, or via a smartphone app.

Developments to boost tourism and create jobs

In addition to its environmental advantages, this project has also stimulated economic activity in the areas concerned: 23 jobs were directly created, mainly related to transport services. Indirectly, it has allowed increased tourism in the region and, consequently, an increase in the number of jobs in this sector. It has also provided training for students in higher education in technical fields, which facilitates their entry into the professional sphere.

Social inclusion was one of the cornerstones of this project. The involvement of various actors via round tables has strengthened cohesion between citizens, administrations and associations throughout the project, by allowing them to contribute to growth and quality of life in these territories.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the ‘PERLA’ project was EUR 2 003 000, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 1 502 250 under the Operational Programme ‘Italy – maritime France’ for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment comes under the ‘accessibility’ priority.

Draft date

20/06/2016