Brussels for All: Everything needed to know about accessibility at tourist sites

Grand Place - Grote Market. ©  Jean-Pol Lejeune
Grand Place – Grote Market. © Jean-Pol Lejeune

Tourism sector around the world is thriving to make itself more and more accessible, with a special focus on making tourism sites and facilities disabled-friendly. Similar efforts are being made in Brussels, which has come out with a new guide. “Brussels For All” is a trilingual guide which offers an overview of the accessibility of tourist facilities for people with limited mobility looking for information when staying in Brussels. This trilingual tourist guide has a brand new layout for its 10th anniversary edition. This guide is a comprehensive tool that’s packed with practical information about access to accommodation, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, sports centres and leisure venues. It also helps to raise awareness among travel agencies, transport service providers and accommodation suppliers.

Developing “tourism for all” is the challenge that the not-for-profit organisation AMT CONCEPT has been relishing for more than 10 years, with its guide as well as a website. This hard copy version is a valuable resource based on the website. It is packed with simple, concise information about accessibility, referring to the website for more details and illustrations. AMT Concept also offers suggestions for ways of tackling the behavioural and architectural barriers preventing disabled tourists from travelling safely. As well as the choice of accommodation, leisure activities in general are an integral part of the destination’s tourist activities and appeal. In the medium and long term, tourist venues must also be carefully thought out to make sure everyone has access to all aspects of the Brussels experience.

Grand Place - Grote Market. ©  Jean-Pol Lejeune
Grand Place – Grote Market. © Jean-Pol Lejeune

Although there have been significant improvements in recent years in Brussels, accessibility to tourist venues is far from perfect, particularly when it comes to public transport, public buildings, shops, restaurants, leisure venues etc. In reality, this guide concerns everybody. All too often, we tend to forget that people with limited mobility represent around one third of the population. Associating them exclusively with people with disabilities is too restrictive! In fact, at some point in our lives, we can all experience difficulties when it comes to getting around. We are all one day facing mobility issues. This is why integral accessibility is touching more people than the ones with a handicap. Integral accessibility means an access to social, cultural and economic life. It’s a matter of equality of chances and a fundamental right.

At the beginning of any journey, it is important to provide detailed information about the destination. A step to climb, a badly designed door width or a poorly positioned flower plot can often be a source of dependency and fatigue for disabled travellers or their companions. As well as its website, VISITBRUSSELS also provides information about accessibility for people with limited mobility in most of its brochures. Lastly, this guide alone is not enough: it complements other traditional tourist guides, which are still crucial when it comes to appreciating all the cultural and leisure activities that Brussels has to offer.

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