On the occasion of World Tourism Day, which focussed on accessible tourism this year, another worldwide “MapMyDay” mapathon was carried out. This time the goal was to gather information on the wheelchair accessibility of tourist spots near and far. Because as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared: “On this World Tourism Day, let us recognize that all people can and should be able to participate in tourism and enjoy unforgettable travel experiences.”
The MapMyDay goal was easily reached with 3,000 new locations being added to Wheelmap, the online map for wheelchair accessible places. Individuals and groups went out to find places in their cities that would be interesting for tourists. A very motivated mapping group was organized by MyAccessible.EU partner Mapping for Change in Thessaloniki, Greece. Thessaloniki has one of the largest ports in Greece and the huge cruise ships that dock there send vast numbers of tourists into the city to explore what it has to offer. And the MapMyDay mappers set out to find out what the city has to offer its tourists with a mobility impairment.
Despite some initial problems with the local network connectivity, the group was able to map a variety of locations in Thessaloniki’s. When the group first set out there was no information whatsoever on the wheelchair accessibility of places in Thessaloniki to be found on Wheelmap.
But after the mapping extravaganza a total of 299 locations had been assessed and given a corresponding colored marker. The information that was gathered indicates that there is quite a way to go in addressing the inaccessibility of many sites across the city. An important next step is to raise awareness about the accessibility of public spaces in our towns and cities. The mappers in Thessaloniki made a great start in what will hopefully lead to continued action in Thessaloniki and other cities across Greece and elsewhere.