EuRegio Barrierefrei: a travel website for people with disabilities in Germany and Austria
A new website for people with disabilities in Germany and Austria serves as a platform for sharing information and reviews on the accessibility of popular holiday destinations.
" Following the end of the project, the initial groups of disabled persons have continued to test touristic offerings funded by the budget of the project and its partners. In other words, this is an ongoing process that we fully expect to continue to grow in the near future. "
Southern Bavaria in Germany and the Salzburg region of Austria have a shared history and common culture, with citizens from both sides of the border regularly crossing for all aspects of daily life like school, work or holiday. However, one population that is limited in their ability to take advantage of this cross-border interaction are persons with disabilities.
When the average European citizen goes to book their summer holidays, they can turn to an array of user-based review sites and booking engines to find the right tour for them. For people with disabilities, it can be more difficult. For starters, these sites are often not accessible. More importantly, they also lack any indication as to the accessibility of a given hotel, restaurant or tourist attraction.
An accessibility advisor
The EURegio Barrierefrei project, backed with EUR 11 103 in funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), set out to break down these barriers by consolidating all information relating to inclusive, accessible holiday opportunities from across the region into a single, one-stop-shop website.
The result is www.euregio-barrierfrei.eu, a user-driven, ‘Trip Advisor’ style travel review website where persons with disabilities and their relatives can share information on their experiences at particular hotels, restaurants and other holiday-related locations. Users can simply log on to the site and search reviews written by other users with disabilities. With this information in hand, they can book their holiday with confidence that the establishments they are travelling to are in fact truly accessible.
The economic impact
By using digital and social platforms, the project successfully created a community that is having a direct impact on the regional economy. By promoting inclusive travel, holiday and tourism related businesses and services are benefiting. As the project relies on the expertise of the end user, it is also creating new job opportunities for people with disabilities, who are now being hired as ‘accessibility experts’.
Even though the project itself is closed, its impact is sure to continue. Project partners are currently expanding the website’s scope by partnering with various national, regional and community tourist associations in both Austria and Germany to link their websites to the EuRegio Barrierefrei site. This has led to the creation of over 57 accessible package holidays. A training course on accessibility has also been developed, which could be used by other EU programmes.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “EuRegio Barrierefrei” is EUR 21 285, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 11 103 through the “Germany (Bavaria) – Austria” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.