Doors open. Indeed wide open. Over the coming three years the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation will be coordinating the Gate project. This involves a number of partners, such as the Cooperativa sociale Independent L cooperative, the Municipality of Santorso, the Alpago CAI (Italian Alpine Club), the University of Innsbruck and Salzburg Research, contributing to making tourism in the Dolomites ever more inclusive. The main aim of this cross-border project, Interreg V A Italy-Austria, is to enable a growing number of people to enjoy the natural Alpine and Pre-Alpine environments, regardless of environmental, physical and linguistic obstacles. This aim coincides with some of the strategies set out by the Foundation and its own “Accessible Dolomites” project has also demonstrated the organisation’s commitment to inclusivity.
“GATE”, or doors open to everyone
Project Gate however, has an even wider-ranging approach in that it aims to bring together local and regional governments, private individuals and research bodies to work towards making tourism inclusive rather than just the prerogative of certain Alpine areas, seeking to expand this industry so that it becomes the leading asset of the entire Alpine area.
This project creates the opportunity to extend the range of tourist options on offer, promoting an experiential approach in which people see, listen to and touch the mountains, breathing them in and, naturally, tasting them.
from theory to practice….
Well then, were to start? As always, first of all it is necessary to agree on the guidelines to be adopted and the languages to be used in order to promote barrier-free tourism uniformly. It would indeed be paradoxical if this attempt itself encountered “barriers” in means and instruments too widely different from one another to be compatible.
Once these guidelines have been defined, the attention can turn, for example, to e-tourism platforms, designing written, spoken, multi-media and tactile means appropriate for each individual area.
Accessibility is both a right and an opportunity to expand the range of tourist experiences, something that, in some areas, has already been achieved in practical and efficient ways. What is lacking however, is a shared project that works uniformly, including across frontiers. Moreover, ideally those who have already developed good practice should be seated at the same work table as those who are in the process of establishing this in their own area. Common operating languages in a multilingual context are of prime importance.
This provides added value both for those who are active in this process and also of course for the tourists who can visit the various holiday destinations and find easily understandable multi-sensory information.
The role of the Foundation
The UNESCO Dolomites Foundation coordinates and aids the involvement of interested people and entities and it takes care of the administrative aspects of the project.
Another essential task is communication, from printing informative material to providing online content and producing promotional videos in order to spread the word about the work done and to encourage good practice in every field.