Hidden city Tor-Tour
A barrier-free tour of the city centre of Pécs
First, some background information on the creation of our Hidden City Tor-Tour:
Accessibility is a fundamental problem for people with disabilities, especially when the areas declared accessible by healthy society are, in fact, not accessible.
People with disabilities have the right to and should have the same quality of life as their healthy peers. Being excluded from certain areas of life due to their disabilities is not acceptable.
One such, life-enhancing activity not freely available to people with disabilities is tourism. However it is an area that is of great importance to them, as it is for us, in terms of leisure, health and community building.
In recent tourism research, accessible tourism has played no, or hardly any role, which indicates the necessity to open up and do further research in this field. Actually, we prefer to use the term inclusive tourism, which has a broader meaning and gives a fuller picture of what this area of tourism is really about. Inclusive tourism is accessible to everyone, so the target group is much wider than just people living with disabilities. It is extended to everyone who needs a barrier-free environment, including the elderly, families with young children, or those with temporary injuries. (Inclusion means social acceptance of all groups of society.) For these target groups, tourism is still an issue in many countries. Service providers in the hospitality industry, such as accommodation providers or travel agencies do not see them as potential customers. Unfortunately, Hungary is one of these countries.
As part of the project called “If there’s no barrier, we’re coming too!” running between March 2019 and January 2020, funded by Strengthening Civil Organisations, People First Association has developed a new, attention-grabbing, accessible guided tour in Pécs, then introduced in 2021 as a regular tourist attraction, in cooperation with the Tourinform office in Pécs.
The aim of the tour is to sensitize and engage society. People with disabilities do not want to participate in tourism separately. They would like to participate in tourism together with their able-bodied peers.
Accessible/inclusive tourism is an excellent opportunity for the two groups to collaborate, which is also the most successful way of sensitizing.
We want to achieve implementation based on broad partnership, with the involvement of professional and non-governmental organizations, city government as well as the general public, which would support social inclusion, so important to us.
A barrier-free environment is not only good for people with disabilities!
Influencing city marketing with the needs of people with disabilities in mind and innovation are both important aspects of the project. In order to achieve the latter, we are trying to take advantage of the emerging trend that tourists are looking for novelty and unusual experiences. They are looking for different approaches and points of view also when exploring new cities.
The Hidden City Tour shows the city through a different lens. It shows participants how people with disabilities can visit certain tourist attractions in the city and what kind of tricks they need to play at times in order to reach their destination. Participants can experience first hand what is possible and what is impossible for people with disabilities, what kind of compromises they need to make, what it means not to give up, as well as all the feelings that arise in the process.
All of this is intended with a touch of irony, though. We have no intention of communicating negativity, rather we would like to have some fun and create good impressions. We would like to put the focus on the ingenuity, creative and positive attitude, and the incredible will of people living with disabilities, as well as sensitise able-bodied participants and educate them about how they can be of help.
For maximum effect we will provide various equipment for adventurous participants, such as wheelchairs, simulation glasses for visual impairments, and ear plugs to simulate hearing loss.
Length of the tour: about 90 minutes
We will offer a variety of tours with professional guides visiting the attractions of the city centre and viewing them through a different lens.
Tours always end with evaluation, as getting to know the opinions of the participants is an essential element of social sensitization, involvement.
- Tourists visiting the city
- Business and professional tourism (MICE). As an additional event of conferences, as Best Practice on the Exemplaryness of Pécs
- Local residents – this group can be involved in different ways: through thematic tours organised monthly or quarterly – (similarly to existing thematic tours already available) and through less formal, playful tours for groups of school children, involving sensitizing games.
Our main goal is to introduce Hidden City Tor-Tour as one of the permanent thematic tours of the city.
Our further aims include sensitising, informing, and getting the general public involved. An important goal is inclusion and the full participation of people with disabilities in society, as well as educating people regarding disabilities.
The active support of people with disabilities should play a role in the city marketing of Pécs, which would positively influence the city’s perception both domestically and internationally. We would like Pécs to become an exemplary city in its approach to people with disabilities, so we can be proud of our city in this respect as well.
Through the press and social media, we are hoping to gain wide publicity for the issue of inclusive tourism and the city.
In the long run, this project will provide employment opportunities in accessible tourism for local residents living with disabilities. Our tour guides are always our professionally prepared members with disabilities. Participants will acquire new skills, knowledge, experience as well as a “profession”. By making the project sustainable in the long run, participants are given the opportunity to become active members of society, at the same time we offer an innovative tourism service in Pécs.
Through this project we are building a network of partners, and fostering open-minded cooperation between non-governmental organizations, the city and tourism organizations.
A brief insight into a two-minute video coverage on our Youtube channel: Come for a walk with us in Pécs! Barrier-free