A new smartphone app named ‘Inclusive Vilamoura’ which promises to make the experience of visiting Vilamoura much easier for the blind and people with visual handicaps was launched this week.
Developed by myEyes with the support of Inframoura, Vilamoura Marina and Loulé Council, the app was designed to cement Vilamoura’s position as an inclusive destination for holidaymakers.
“It uses simple and accessible technology which can be configured with a variety of useful information for blind people and people with visual impairments,” said Ana Sofia Antunes, Portugal’s Secretary of State for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities, at the app’s official presentation.
When you open the app, nine squares appear. The three on the top row allow users to find out where they are, receive instructions on how to use the app and access a 24-hour help hotline.
The others provide information on nearby restaurants, hotels and shops that are equipped to welcome people with any kind of disabilities. You can also ask for the information that you heard to be repeated.
“More than tourists who come here for three-day getaways, we are welcoming more and more tourists who are older, have more money to spend in Portugal and stay here longer, which is why it is important to make sure that when they arrive they find technology that supports them as well as restaurants, public toilets and other spaces that are accessible,” the secretary of state added.
And while Portugal may have become the first country in the world to receive the award for ‘Accessible Tourism Destination’ by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) – an accolade which was questioned by many – Ana Sofia Antunes admits that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Apart from using technology to help people with disabilities, Antunes says that the country has to tackle the “architectural barriers” that so often impede the mobility of the disabled.
Meantime, Loulé Mayor Vítor Aleixo said that this innovative technology may start being used in other parts of Vilamoura and even the municipality and spoke of the importance of making the borough an “inclusive and intelligent destination”.
“Given that tourism is such an essential part of the local economy, it would be unthinkable, both on a human and financial level, to not try to make our destination more accessible,” he said.