Today me and Tina from New Tourism Institute went to the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce to attend a conference about social economy. We arrived in the afternoon for the workshop "Social Economy and Tourism”. At the beginning I didn’t know anything about what I was going to listen to, but at the end of the conference I was very pleased with what I have heard. I'll tell you about the workshop:
It was about tourism, but what is tourism? The World Tourism Organization says that tourism are all the activities that people (tourists) do during their travels in places different than their own place, for a consecutive period inferior to one year and major a day, with leisure proposals, business or other motives. But I want to highlight the existence of sustainable tourism; in this tourism profits are important, but it’s necessary to merge them with the environment and social necessities. The answer on how profits can be merged with social necessities is Social Tourism.
At the workshop there were three speakers, all in charge of different Social Tourism projects.
First, Dolores Kores spoke on behalf of the Turag4all tourist agency. The idea of the Slovenian Association for Mental Health ŠENT was to establish a travel agency for people with special necessities. They think that tourism is not a luxury, but a basic right that all the humans have, so people with disabilities should not be discriminated. The agency wants to help people with mental problems to get employment and also sells tourism products for the disabled guests. Dolores told us that she wants to cooperate with new partners and we agreed I can work at her tourist agency in the next two weeks.
The next guest was Antonio Zurino from Italy. He explained us the idea behind "LE MAT.” He told us about the Social Cooperative System that they use: in these cooperatives workers own co-operatives, self-help entrepreneurs action for empowerment and decent salaries for their members, and many of the workers are exclusion people or people with disabilities. This system is used in different fields, such us agriculture, tourism… In the tourism sector there are “LEMAT” resorts in Italy (from Trieste to Bari or Palermo) and even in Sweden (Vägen ut! Kooperativen). People who work in these resorts are ex-prisoners, ex-alcoholic, ex-drug addicts… Antonio believes that Slovenia is also ready for such cooperatives and why not start one?
The last spokesperson was Andreas Zebisch from Austria. He is the manager of Seminarkultur an der Donau, a hotel in Wenesufer. This is the only hotel in Austria where the employees have mental problems. He told us that work with these people is a gratifying experience, and amongst the ten objectives of success in his experience are flexibility and struggling against the superficial.
To sum up, tourism is a right for all the people and with tourism we can help people with problems or disabilities to integrate into the society. I am looking forward to learning more about social tourism while working in the specialised tourism agency in the next two weeks.
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