Accessible tourism

Dear Editor,

My cousin in UK asked me to help find him a luxury hotel in the Algarve, 20-30 minutes from the airport, where he, his wife, their grown up family and grandchildren could enjoy a holiday. Near to some facilities so a bit of shopping, exploring etc could be done without using a car all the time. Dates were totally flexible. The location was all important. Easy I thought.

So easy. Wrong! Oh yes, I forgot to mention my cousin is in a wheelchair and needs a bathroom with a wheel-in shower.

You may not believe me when I tell you that ALL the hotels I have tried (six to date) have baths in their disabled rooms. We are talking high-end, expensive hotels here and not one has a shower. Except over the bath of course.

Everything is geared to someone who can stand unaided – so why then would they need a wheelchair one might ask.

The staff in the hotels were very nice, very kind and very sympathetic – and some even admitted they had never given it a thought. If you telephone the hotels in advance as I did, they tell you they have a disabled room with wheelchair access to the shower.

What they mean is the bathroom is accessible to the wheelchair. Some bathrooms were so large you could hold a reasonable party in them but they all had baths.

So whose fault is this? Perhaps the Algarve Resident could start a campaign because this is one family who will have to go elsewhere for their holiday. How many others I wonder will do the same?

European law on the subject is quite clear: “Buildings must be designed in such a way so as to ensure that people with disabilities can move around within them and use their facilities. Where sanitary accommodation is provided, it must be accessible to people with disabilities” and “the size and layout of the bathroom or a WC compartment should be such that a wheelchair can be fully contained within the compartment and the door closed with a wheelchair inside.”

Sandra Wilkinson, By email

Editor’s note: Dear Sandra, this is a very important subject, which we have made the Algarve Tourism Board aware of. You should call them on 289 800 400 and ask that they help. After all, they are there to provide assistance to tourists.