Inspiring accessibility in the most challenging of locations is the main goal for Wheel the World's Alvaro Silberstein. It's a challenge that faces many obstacles, the biggest of those being effective collaborations with attractions managers, governments and tourism organisations, he says.
Silberstein, who co-founded Wheel the World with lifelong friend Camillo Navarro, wanted to organise trips for disabled people to enjoy some of the world's most iconic sights and attractions. In its first year, the company helped more than 500 disabled customers to travel to exotic locations all over the world, including a recent headline-grabbing excursion to the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, high in the Peruvian Andes. And plans for new locations are being added all the time.
"There's a range of equipment if you don't want to modify your infrastructure," he told Attractions Management
. "It's about providing the right information to accommodate these visitors and to make services more accessible. Getting the people who run things like national parks and travel attractions to collaborate with us is the main challenge we continue to face."
Wheel the World came about through wheelchair-bound Silberstein's own desire to visit the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia in his native Chile. His research had identified the existence of the Joëlette wheelchair, specially made for traversing rough terrain. He had to raise money to purchase this expensive technology and ship it to the location.
Having made the trip with Navarro, the pair left the equipment behind so others with disabilities could enjoy the National Park. From there, Wheel the World has grown to include trips to a variety of other locations, with training for local guides also provided so they can handle a range of equipment and set up deals with accessible accommodation providers.
"Using these different technologies makes it possible," Silberstein explained. "We want to make these experiences available to as many people as possible. We have a special purpose ‒ to empower people with disabilities to explore the world without limits."To hear more from Silberstein about Wheel the World, see the full interview in Issue 2 2019 of Attractions Management here.