'People with mobility issues, pregnant women, the elderly and the caregivers use Seatrac to feel free and gain dignity,' Greek officials have said.
More people will be able to enjoy the beauty of Greece now as the country has decided to make its beaches wheelchair friendly. They have decided to install remote-operated ramps at 287 of Greece's beaches to make it wheelchair friendly. This is being done by a Greek company called Seatrac. “Equal access to the sea is an inalienable human right,” Greece’s Minister of Tourism’s Vassilis Kikilias said during a recent press conference, as per the Greek Reporter.
“People with disabilities and people with limited mobility are given the opportunity to participate in beach activities with family and friends, enhancing the quality of life for everyone,” Kikilias added. "People with disabilities and people with limited mobility can engage in activities such as swimming that contribute to their physical and mental health.”
The Seatrac installation is done to achieve the country’s goal of becoming a tourist destination and is part of a 15 million euro (around $16.6 million) project called the “Creation of Integrated Tourist Accessible Sea Destinations.”
“Seatrac is not just a product, it’s a unique experience,” said Ignatios Fotiou, director of the company TOBEA. “People with mobility issues, pregnant women, the elderly and the caregivers use Seatrac to feel free and gain dignity.” Greek officials have reported that 147 beaches already have Seatrac systems installed, even islands such as Crete and Thessily.
This will add to the Greek economy by increasing the number of visitors with disabilities and limited mobility. The tourism ministry has also designed a website that mentions the details of this plan. “I like that wheelchair users can use [Seatrac] independently without needing assistance,” said Kristin Secor, creator of blog World on Wheels, to The Washington Post’s Andrea Sachs. “It looks like transferring from one’s wheelchair to the device is relatively easy.”
The country has made immense progress in enabling disabled people since the 2004 Athens Olympics. They even placed concrete in pathways of the Acropolis even when archaeologists disagreed with this step. “It’s a crime to wound the Rock, because it’s a monument,” said architect Tasos Tanoulas.
Lina Mendoni, the nation’s culture minister, responded at the time: “[Giving] joy to people is perhaps just as significant as the protection of our cultural goods. I have seen people in wheelchairs who came up for the first time and felt happy. The disabled, the elderly, people with various problems have the right to see and admire up close the Acropolis monuments."
This move was appreciated by people with limited mobility. “We’ve been talking about disabled access to the Acropolis since the 2004 Olympics,” said Yiannis Vardakastanis, president of the Confederation of Disabled People. “Now we can say that any disabled person in the world who wants to visit the Acropolis can do so." In 2020, Crete’s Chania won an Access City Award for using technology for parking purposes. Truly, this is an important step and other countries can learn from Greece as well!