Greece promises to make hundreds of its beaches accessible to those with mobility issues, including the elderly and those in wheelchairs, so that more people will soon be able to take advantage of its crystal-clear blue waters.
In order to make 287 of its beaches wheelchair-accessible, the nation will build remotely operated ramps, officials announced at a news conference last month. The Greek business Seatrac created the system.
Additional infrastructure upgrades include more ramps, better parking spaces, and lavatory and changing facilities.
“The opportunity to participate in beach activities with family and friends, improving the quality of life for everyone, is given to people with disabilities and people with limited mobility,” Kikilias continued.
The “Creation of Integrated Tourist Accessible Sea Destinations” project, worth 15 million euros (about $16.6 million), includes the Seatrac installation, which supports the nation’s effort to promote itself as an inclusive travel destination.
What is the mechanism behind Seatrac?
The Seatrac system was created in Greece in 2012 and uses an automatic ramp and sliding chair to carry people up to or into the water. If a person is in a wheelchair, they can transfer to the Seatrac chair after adjusting it to fit their own wheelchair’s height. To aid swimmers in entering and exiting the water, handrails are located at the end of the course. A button-operated shower is located at the bottom of the ramp and may be used to turn it on and off.
Riders may operate the chair independently thanks to a waterproof remote. If there isn’t an on-site remote, everyone, even guests, can receive one for free from the business. The Seatrac system is also free to use.
Regrettably, if the waves are strong, the system cannot be used.
Ignatios Fotiou, head of TOBEA, the organisation that created the system, remarked that Seatrac was more than just a product. It was a special experience. Seatrac helps people with mobility difficulties, expectant mothers, the elderly, and carers feel liberated and achieve dignity.
Which beaches have undergone the project to improve accessibility?
According to Greek officials, 147 beaches already have Seatrac devices in place, some of which are on islands like Crete and Thessaly.
Other enhancements are also promising. Chania, a beachfront city with a Seatrac system in Crete, received a special mention for the Access City Award in 2020 for utilising technology to manage its accessible parking.
Is Greece a popular travel destination?
Greece is “working to improve their accessibility and universal design” for all types of travellers, according to Debra Kerper, an accessible travel expert with Cruise Planners.
She went there during the 2004 Athens Olympics and Paralympics, and she thought that accessibility “wasn’t great, especially in the old city of Plaka.” Greece is renowned for its rocky, steep topography, and even some of its beaches are only reachable by boat.
Since then, the nation has enhanced accessibility not only to beaches but also to popular sights, such the 2020 installation of a wheelchair-accessible lift at the Acropolis.
By 2019, all ships must comply with Greek government regulations requiring the installation of specific parking places, locations for wheelchairs to be secured and, where necessary, lifts or other lifting equipment.
On her itinerary for a group trip to Greece in October 2023, Kerper has included a day trip by ferry to Agistri Island and a walking and rolling tour of Athens. We’re all quite eager to visit and assess the accessibility there, added Kerper.