It’s without a doubt that Greece is becoming a bucket list destination for millions of travelers worldwide and among them people with disabilities.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 16% of the world’s population or an estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) goes on to add that two-thirds of these people in developed economies are likely to have means to travel and will usually do so accompanied by two or even three companions. In Europe meanwhile, 70% of the disabled have the financial means to travel.

That’s a huge market and Greek tourism stakeholders know this very well. But is Greece, starting with its capital Athens, accessible?

Making Greece Accessible: A Game Changer

Efforts to make Athens accessible started during the 2004 Olympic Games with the introduction of ramps and tactile paving. In 2020, a new wheelchair lift and specially designed paths were installed at the Acropolis making the once inaccessible the 5th century BC UNESCO World Heritage site open to all. In the last few years, most of Athens’ museums and dozens of sites countrywide have become accessible, and at the same time, over 225 beaches across Greece can now cater to the needs of people with disabilities and mobility issues thanks to the installation of seatrac ramps which enable unassisted sea access and which were created by Greek company Tobea in collaboration with the University of Patra. The list of beaches can be found here.

Late last year, during a discussion about the national strategy for the rights of persons with disability on occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogiani and her counterpart at the Culture Ministry Lina Mendoni said accessibility and inclusivity were top priorities.

Mendoni referred to a Digital Disability Card which allows quick and free access to museums and archaeological sites and includes companions. She went on to add that more sites and museums across Greece were being equipped with lifts, accessible restrooms, ramps, and even golf carts for transportation needs.

Last fall, as part of the country’s resilience plan, the government said it had set aside a budget of 17.1 million euros to fund accessibility initiatives from local governments, tourism development organizations, businesses, and ministries. Application deadline until 31 May 2024.