Disabled Travel in Croatia: New Beach Access in Stari Grad, Hvar
Facilities for the disabled tourist are somewhat sporadic in Croatia, but new facilities for beach access in Stari Grad are a welcome addition.
Work has been completed on the first disabled access to the sea in Stari Grad on Hvar, according to a press release on the town's official website on July 17, 2011, a project co-funded by the town of Stari Grad and Split-Dalmatia County.
State Funding for Disabled Beach Access
The access, on the Bonj beach close to the old town of Stari Grad, which dates back to 384 BC, was constructed at a cost of 150,000 kuna (approximately US$ 30,000) by local companies Pirak doo and Punat doo, working to plans from design firm Urbing doo.
The new facility is welcome news for disabled tourists to Croatia, with the island of Hvar being one of the most popular destinations, famous for its sunshine (average 2724 hours a year), lavender and stunning beauty.
Information for Disabled Tourists in Croatia
There is little information available in English about disabled travel in Croatia, but there are several organisations offering help and funding to improve facilities for the disabled traveller. Arguably the best resource is HUPT, the Croatian Paraplegic and Tetraplegic Associationwhich offers a wealth of practical information, including useful maps on accessible beaches, accommodation and motorway service stations.
Croatian Advocacy for the Rights of the Disabled
In addition to its information service, HUPT actively promotes human rights for people with disabilities, and cooperates with a number of other institutions and non-governmental organisations, including the Croatian Academy and Research Network, the Association of Disabled Persons in Croatia and the Croatian Guide Dog and Mobility Association.
The issue of disability is an emotive one in Croatia, given the ongoing effects of the recent war in former Yugoslavia. The interests of the disabled from the war are advocated by the Croatian Disabled Homeland War Veterans Association, an association of veterans who fought in the Homeland War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their current membership is 33,000.
Sport in Croatia for the Disabled
There are also numerous sporting opportunities for the disables in Croatia through organisations under the umbrella of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports. Among the most active are the Croatian Paralympic Committee and the Croatian Deaf Sports Federation, whose athletes compete in international competition.
Many disabled visitors to Croatia express frustration at the lack of facilities and infrastructure, with the famed cobbled streets of the country's stunning walled stone towns offering a challenge to the wheelchair bound, but things are changing and there are options, as the new Stari Grad initiative demonstrates.