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Case Report Open Access
Research aims: Sustainable tourism means reducing barriers of accessibility in the tourist destinations. It requires the creation and promotion of barrier – free space, facilities and services. The aim of the study was to examine the current accessibility of Cracow and Warsaw historic districts, which are the most popular tourist destinations in Poland. Tourists with motor, visual and hearing impairment require special aids to visit historical cities and tourist attractions (as museums) safely and relatively independently. Our research objective was also to outline a model of principal improvements to enhance accessibility to heritage sites, which could be replicable in the similar contexts of other Polish historic cities (as for example in Torun). Research material and methods: The research was conducted between 2012 and 2015 in Cracow and Warsaw Old Towns both are medieval historic districts enlisted to the UNESCO World Heritage List and create popular tourist destinations. Information on tourist accessibility of the Old Towns was gathered based on experience from the authors’ visits, observations and field research, as well as publications, law regulations, local authorities strategies undertaken to improve accessibility of tourist reception areas. Research results: Accordingly to the law regulations, in Poland newly erected buildings and public space must be accessible to persons with hearing, visual and motor impairments. But still, almost 70% of museums and tourist attractions at heritage sites are inaccessible to persons with motor impairment. There are no enough provision of services and facilities dedicated to disabled. For example visual information is too rarely accompanied by records in the Braille alphabet or with sound – visual assistance. The article presents the most important modifications to be applied in aim to enhance the accessibility of Cracow and Warsaw, the two most popular tourist destinations in Poland, and identifies a number of the ‘best practice’ recommendations to be applied to sustainable planning and management of tourist space of high cultural values with regard to disabled tourists. Conclusions and discussion: Removing barriers for disabled tourists in historical buildings is often difficult not only due to the high costs of such projects, but also due to strict requirements issued by the Polish Heritage Conservatory office (which usually prevent extensive intervention in historical buildings). The open question remains whether entirely ‘mobile tourism’ is achievable in a historic city, on how high costs and how big compromises are necessary. Moreover, as each historic site is unique - an individual approach, rather than universal model, is necessary to enhance tourism sustainability and reduce barriers.
Tourist mobility, Accessibility to historic towns, Barrierfree destinations, Tourism, Tourist, Domestic Tourism, International Tourism, Economy, Winter Tourism, Mass Tourism, Adjectival Tourism, Sustainable Tourism, Ecotourism, Educational Tourism, Creative Tourism, Experiential Tourism, Social Tourism, Space Tourism, Inbound Tourism, Sports Tourism, Out Bound Tourism, Hospitality, Hospitality Services, Tourist mobility, Accessibility to historic towns, Barrierfree destinations