Is slow traveling always accessible?


One of the latest trends in tourism is Slow Travel. For most people familiar with this concept, Slow Travel refers to exploring a new destination and taking the time to discover everything it has to offer. However, this new way of traveling needs a more extensive explanation. In this article, we will discuss what slow travel is and how it connects to accessible travel. Furthermore, the slow travel characteristics of our packages and tours will be discussed.

Definition slow tourism

According to various research papers and tourism organizations, slow traveling can be defined as a sustainable form of tourism focused on rediscovering local traditions and cultural knowledge. The potential tourist goes to a destination with the main focus of getting a fully authentic experience while visiting. The visitors are not in a hurry but want to take the time and effort for this experience. Simply put, it’s the complete opposite of the fast-paced tourist willing to only visit the top attractions in the fastest and cheapest ways possible without any regard for local culture.

To be classified as slow tourism, the potential product or service needs certain elements incorporated into it. These components are Cultural, sustainable, slow movement, local gastronomy, peaceful leisure, local accommodation, and services provided in a relaxing atmosphere. Examples of slow tourism are visiting a locally owned vineyard and having a wine tasting. A good case example for Amsterdam is visiting the ‘Brouwerij aan ‘t IJ’. This locally owned brewery is located in one of the last reaming windmills in the city. The company brews various beers in a sustainable way, has a beer tasting room, and offer tours of the brewery and windmill. An authentic experience compared to the fast-paced tour at the Heineken experience.

Connection with Accessible tourism

We are relating accessible travel to slow travel, because of the concept of slow travel, amongst others, concerns a slower pace and more attention for cultural elements during activities. Tour products offered by accessible tourism providers often include enough time to explore a place on a slower pace and with more attention to cultural details. However, the reasons for these similarities are different. Slow tourism focusses on people who want to have an authentic experience while accessible tourism focusses on people with limited mobility (amongst other impairments). Because the accessible travel offer often pays much attention to authentic details, the products offered can be interesting for people with interest for Slow travel as well.

Are there more examples of slow tourism in the Netherlands? Yes, there are many products and services that can be classified as slow tourism in the Netherlands, but taking a further look you will notice that slow tourism does not automatically mean that it is accessible. As previously mentioned visiting the ‘Brouwerij aan ‘t IJ’’ is a good example of slow tourism. Everyone can enjoy a beer tasting on the outside terrace and restaurant at the brewery, but unfortunately, the windmill and certain parts of the brewery are not accessible for wheelchair users. In other words, while most accessible tours have many elements of slow tourism incorporated, not all slow tourism products or services consider the needs of all participants.

Authentic and slow pace tours

Accessible Travel Netherlands offers a number of accessible tours that can be classified as slow tourism. A perfect example is a culinary expedition through the city of The Hague. During this 4-hour excursion of the city, you will not only visit various important highlights but you also have the opportunity to taste authentic snacks offered by eight locally owned restaurants.The tour will be given by a local guide who has great knowledge of the city. You will also hear real-life stories told by local shop owners. Another great example is the power kiting workshop. This one and half hour workshops gives you the opportunity practice kiting with a power kite. The local instructor will teach you the tricks on how to control the kite. The workshop is also perfectly tailored to your personal needs of participants. There are a number of kites available and the sport can be practiced in a wheelchair or beach wheelchair.

These tours can be classified as slow tourism because of the following reasons. The excursion and workshop are sustainable because local companies and tour guides benefit from it. Secondly, the culinary expedition and power kiting give you the opportunity to experience The Hague and Scheveningen in an authentic way that can not be easily offered by other tours companies. Furthermore, these activities don’t focus on doing or seeing as much possible, but on taking the time and effort needed for the participants to enjoy a comfortable and unique experience. Lastly, The users of the culinary expedition eat dutch delicacy at various locally owned restaurants.

Obviously, not all accessible tourism offers can be related to slow tourism. A limited number of tours and activities offered by Accessible Travel Netherlands can be related to slow travel as a whole. However, a few tours and activities do offer a more authentic and slow pace experience of the Netherlands. These activities and tours are:

  • Accessible bicycle tour of Amsterdam-Noord
  • Guided Accessible History Tour of Amsterdam
  • Day Tour Castles and Fortified Town
  • Driving Tour Noord-Holland: Beemster World Heritage Site
  • Stay in Van Gogh Region, Noord-Brabant

It can be concluded that slow travel is more than only visiting a destination in a more slow-paced manner. The visitor wants to experience the destination in the most authentic manner as possible in his or her own pace. Furthermore, not all products or services that can be categorized as slow traveling are accessible. There might be more personal attention to participants, but accessibility requirements are not always taken into account