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seven people walking in a line up a trail through a forest with one of them in a wheelchair and a volcano in the background

Chiletur: Making Chile Accessible through Collaboration

Hello everyone! My name is Joanna Gruau, and I work as an intern in the development and growth department at Wheel the World. I’m Spanish, and I work remotely from Madrid.  Since June, I  have worked at Wheel the World on a project based on the accessibility of Chile, together with COPEC, which I’ll tell you about in the next paragraphs.

In this blog, we want to share the Chiletur and WTW collaboration that we have been working on for the last few months with you. This collaboration was born with the aim of strengthening and fulfilling the commitment we have with the Chilean community,  to keep everyone moving,  and to make inclusive tourism an essential agent in this new Chile where EVERYONE matters. 

But just a moment… Let’s not go so fast, let me explain how it all happened…

Let’s go back to June 15th, 2020. Wheel the World was at a key stage of raising capital. It seemed like the world had taken a break. Lockdown became our daily routine.  But Wheel the World does not stop. It’s a passionate team, with an important mission: to make this world accessible for everyone. 

When you work with such a large team, with a marked mission and a great responsibility, in spite of the circumstances, no matter how many obstacles might come on your way, you always end up reaching what you are working for.

a woman laying down on a surfboard on the crest of a 2 foot wave
Adaptive surfing near Viña del Mar, one of the 8 Chiletur destinations

For those who don’t know us, Wheel the World was born two years ago, as a Chilean project, with a very clear mission: to empower people with disabilities to explore the world without limits. Since then, thanks to all the experiences we were part of, and the people with whom we shared stories, our mission has evolved and we want to achieve something bigger, to make this world accessible for everyone.

But first, we want to start at home and turn Chile into a success story to be shared all over the world, and thus expand our mission.

Copec, a company committed to Chile and its development, contacted us in mid-June with a goal to promote inclusive and sustainable tourism. We decided to collaborate, and create together a whole section of inclusive tourism for their Chiletur guides. Chiletur began as a set of maps of Chile that one could buy at the gas station before traveling. As technology evolved, it also became an application – offering the same maps and more information about destinations and places throughout Chile. Part of this collaboration included mapping accessibility information in 8 Chilean cities: Iquique, Rapa Nui, San Pedro de Atacama, Santiago, Puerto Varas, Torres del Paine, Pucon and Viña del Mar/Valparaiso.

a man in a wetsuit seated in a beach wheelchair entering the ocean laughing with three people assisting him smiling
Prepping to Scuba dive at Anakena Beach on Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island

We lined everything up, and organized the beginning of this great 5-month adventure. One of the big challenges that we faced was how to get all of this accessible information remotely.

Wheel the World has always followed the same pattern when mapping and collecting accessibility information, we traveled to different destinations to collect information about all the accessibility features of the experiences that we provided first hand, so that we knew it was accurate and reliable.

How could we ensure the reliability of the information if it was not possible to travel?

Through our community. All of you.

You have played an essential role in the development of this project and you are the force that drives us to keep working  to achieve this great mission.

During the month of July, we organized a marketing campaign in which we looked for ambassadors in the 8 destinations where we collected accessibility information. We were looking for people who wanted to be part of the project and we had the great opportunity to meet with more than 80 people from our community.

We also organized several webinars, in which we shared our mission and the project, in order to expand the community, and therefore receive your feedback about the whole process.

Our Wheel the World ambassadors managed to raise 169 information points about accessibility in different areas of activities, transportation, accommodations and restaurants, in these 8 destinations.

two people in wheelchairs in a park spinning around as a man plays drums and symbols attached to his back
Dancing in the plaza on a tour of Valparaíso

We used the Accessibility Mapping System, several interactive mapping tools that our team developed to make the accessibility mapping of the places as objective as possible.  This system has several tools that we sent to our accessibility ambassadors to map all kinds of places among the 8 destinations.

Using this system has been an exciting process of learning and growth.  

In the future, our entire community will be able to map the accessibility of the sites that they visit, and share detailed accessibility information of our experiences and different locations through our website.

We want our users to be the ones to choose the best experience according to their specific needs and to give the most visibility to the accessibility information.

We will tell you more about our Accessibility Mapping System in the next blogs!

We can talk about many great things that have emerged from this project, but the biggest was the great experience and value of working together with COPEC and the commitment of our Chilean community.

Working together with COPEC has been inspiring, they are a company committed to accompany and facilitate the life in movement of all people and together we are collaborating to reduce inequality.

On the other hand, being able to receive the support of our Chilean community during this great project has given us confidence, courage and a lot of energy to keep pursuing our mission: To make the world accessible!

And that’s all for today, it’s truly empowering to work together with great professionals, to make this world an accessible place for everyone, promoting sustainable and inclusive tourism. 

We will keep you informed as the COPEC & WTW alliance does not end here, soon we will launch our new website, where you will be able to find all this accessibility information, as well as in Chiletur’s tourist guides and app.

Stay tuned to our social networks as we have big projects coming up!

Thank you COPEC and thank you community!

a group of eight people, one in a wheelchair, walking in a line through a rocky landscape with a snow covered volcano in the background
Working together to summit Villarica Volcano in Pucon

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