International Conference on Accessible Tourism for Disabled People on September 11-14, 2008 in Vác, Hungary

Initiated by FIMITIC Vice-President Dr. Csaba Chikan, on behalf of the Hungarian member Association, the National Federation of Disabled Persons´ Associations - MEOSZ - and in cooperation with FIMITIC an International conference was organized about “Accessible tourism for disabled people” on September 11-14, 2008 in Vác, Hungary.

The project is based on the “Visegrad 4” member countries including Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovak Republic. The International Visegrad Fund was established in 2000.

Vác, the town rich in historical memories, permanently renewing yet with still existing signs of its thousand-year-old past, and its precious natural conditions was the venue of the Conference. The town is lying in the bend of the river Danube. The historical significance of Vác was raised by its being an Episcopal see and also its closeness to the royal towns. It also played an important role as a transport junction, a trade and school centre at all times. Owing to the developed industry connected to all this, Vác belonged to the group of towns having become civilized early. In the follow up the role of the industry has been taken over by the “knowledge-industry”. There is always something happening in Vác, besides the places of interest the rich cultural life, spots events, festivals offer precious pastime and entertainment possibilities. The town values, being an open town, the intellectual and tourist centre of the left side and the heart of the Danube-bend promise a good life for the citizens and the visitors.

The FIMITIC delegates did take a first study visit to the town during their stay in Vác. They were also received at the Regional Pest County MKMORE premises, holder of the FIMITIC Secretariat in Vác since beginning of the year 2008.

About 150 participants there under 14 FIMITIC member countries were part of the international conference in the Madách Imre Community Centre of Vác dealing with 

  • The state of art of accessibility in the tourism of the reflected countries,
  • Accommodation facilities (resort or holiday homes, guest houses, etc.), 
  • Travelling, 
  • Tourist destinations, 
  • Possibilities of organizing group travel for physically disabled people, 
  • Good examples as well as
  • Brochures and posters from different places. 

During the opening session - in presence of Dr. János Bóth, Member of  Parliament and Mayor of Vác and the Representative of the State Secretary of Ministry of Social Affais and Labour -  Dr. Lajos Hegedus, Chair of MEOSZ, in his introduction made well understood that free movement is a human rights issue, so it is for disabled people (read the presentation here)

Conference presentations were given by

  • The Ministry of Local Government´ s efforts to develop equal opportunities in tourism for disabled people- Hanna Bozzay, adviser of Ministry of Local Government
  • The requirements of accessible tourists targets and historic buildings - Sándor Ráday, Expert of MEOSZ
  • Tourism of People with Disabilities in Poland – Malgorzata Koter-Mórgowska, Secretary General of the Polish Federation of Organisations of People with Physical Disability - OFOONR -
  • Accessible Tourism in Slovakia – the debelopment in last 20 years – Olga Bohuslavová, the Slovak Union of Physically disabled People - SZTP –
  • Tourism for All: 100 Accessible Lodgings Guide – Miguel Angel Garcia
  • Ocá, President of the Spanish State Platform of Physically Disabled – PREDIF –
  • Accessible tourism in Ireland – Mary Mulryan, Vice President of People with Disabilities in Ireland – PwDI –
  • The role of information in the tourism for disabled people – Péter Murányi, Chief Editor of the Magazine for Gastronomy – Hotels – Tourism
  • Lupus Travel in the tourism for disabled people – Erika Vágó
  • Sport and Tourism – Sándor Navratyl, Chairperson of the Association of Sports and Tourism for Disabled People
  • Barrier free accommodation – Ágota Ruttkay-Miklián, Interior Designer
  • Accessibility in railway travel – Róbert Szórád, Head of Technological Department of MÁV – Start Zrt. Hungarian Railway Company
  • Disabled employees in hotels – Béla Kocsy, Owner of Hotel Panda 

Following a general plenary discussion Dr. Csaba Chikan, Vice President of FIMITIC, presented the Declaration with the urgent action needed. (read the Declaration here)

The proposed resolution has been well rehearsed during this conference. The organizers will take care that the conclusions of this Tourism Conference reached are disseminated appropriately. The final documentation will be published and made known at the time given.

This event and all the preparatory work have laid the foundations for more specific projects which should bring about tangible improvements in tourism.  And clearly, much remains to be done!

Unfortunately there is a lack of available accommodation in Hungary.  So it was in Vác itself. Only a few fully accessible rooms were available. 

A reason why the decision was taken to create a database – besides the information which can be reached on web – with specific information related to accessible tourism on international level.

A welcome reception with dinner offered for the foreign guests by the Mayor of Vác, Dr. János Bóth, in the accessible historical Town Hall building was responded most favourably by the participants.

Thanks to the all around great efforts by the Hungarian hosts the guests from abroad were made to feel at home during their stay in Vác.  

The foreign participants expressed their sincere hope that in the follow up of the conference the special needs of people with disabilities will be even stronger taken in consideration whenever tourist sites in the region and beyond will be made available.

The host member association MEOSZ and FIMITIC will watch carefully the development and raise their voices in right time.
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