I recently attended the German Travel Markt (GTM) in Stuttgart to try to find out what Germany has to offer disabled visitors. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as my past experiences at Tourism Trade Shows have been that none of the companies had much, if any information for people with disabilities and many of them didn’t show much interest. However, I’d previously met Klaus Lohmann, the Director of the German National Tourism Office‘s (GNTO) London Branch at ITB in Berlin. Klaus was very enthusiastic about Germany’s offering for disabled people, not just wheelchair users, but for all people with disabilities. He talked eagerly about GNTO’s “Barrier-Free” Travel Campaign to provide information for disabled people who want to visit his country. The idea behind the campaign is to work with different partners in Germany’s Tourism Industry to provide more information for disabled people and improve services. While I didn’t really know what to expect from GTM, all of the signs were pointing to a great event and making some great contacts.
At last the date arrived and GTM did not disappoint. My first appointment was with the Phaeno Science Centre in Wolfsburg. Although I haven’t yet visited the museum personally, they seemed to be very clued up on facilities for disabled people and provide all of the usual things such as disabled toilets and ramps where required. They’ve also produced a short brochure for disabled people in English but it isn’t yet online.
After that I met with Deutsche Bahn who told me all about their services for disabled people and you can find out all about their services through their “Barrier-Free” page on their website.
Then came the turn of the Tourism Boards from different cities and regions of Germany. I thought that this might be where it would go wrong, where the people I had arranged to meet wouldn’t have any information, but once again, they came out trumps. I didn’t have time to talk to every Tourism Board in the country but I did meet up with some and they were all very helpful. Notably the Tourism Boards for Frankfurt and Dusseldorf pulled out complete “Barrier-Free” guides for me complete with information about suitable accommodation, attractions and sightseeing. You can see these online by using the links above.
All in all I was very impressed with the amount of information that Germany has to offer for disabled people and this is set to increase as the GNTO’s Barrier-Free Travel Campaign gains momentum. I hope to be very involved with this and will continue to write about developments in Germany as they unfold….