- Title: Chilean start-up, 'Wheel the World,' broadens horizons for disabled
- Date: 17th September 2019
- Summary: SANTIAGO, CHILE (SEPTEMBER 11, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF "WHEEL THE WORLD" ALVARO SILBERSTEIN, MOVING IN HIS WHEELCHAIR INSIDE HIS OFFICE OPERATIONS AND LOGISTICS MANAGER AT "WHEEL THE WORD" JUAN PAUL PINTO, WORKING ON HIS COMPUTER VARIOUS OF SILBERSTEIN IN HIS OFFICE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF "WHEEL THE WORLD" ALVARO SILBERSTEIN, SAYING: "I use a wheelchair from the age of 18 and always had the dream of visiting Torres del Paine in Patagonia, which is the most visited (national) park in my country and has a lot of tourist attraction and my dream was to go there and obviously, I saw it as an impossible feat given the lack of accessibility I thought the place had. But one day with certain friends we decided to find a way to do it and organise a trip with five friends who bought tickets to Patagonia and we started to contact Torres del Paine tourist services and they told us that nobody had ever done the trip we wanted to do which was the W circuit in Torres del Paine."
- Embargoed: 1st October 2019 17:13
- Keywords: disabled Tourism disability startup company tourists Chile enterprise adventure Santiago
- Location: SANTIAGO, TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK & EASTER ISLAND, CHILE / SELVA VERDE, COSTA RICA
- City: SANTIAGO, TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK & EASTER ISLAND, CHILE / SELVA VERDE, COSTA RICA
- Country: Chile
- Topics: Company News Markets,Economic Events,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001AX1RVB7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:A Chilean start-up has been launched to open up some of the world's most iconic tourist attractions to disabled visitors.
The idea for Wheel the World was borne out of an expedition three years ago to Chile's Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia by a group of friends from the University of California at Berkeley.
The group crowd-funded a special wheelchair for their friend, Alvaro Silberstein, who was left quadriplegic following a car accident when he was 18.
They documented their trip for those who had contributed to the fund and, spurred by the ensuing interest, began investigating other bucket-list vacations that could be adapted for the disabled.
Since its inception last year, Wheel the World's seven-man team has arranged trips for more 900 people, including to Chile's driest desert, San Pedro de Atacama, scuba diving off Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean, ziplining in Costa Rica and a trek along the Inca Trail to Peru's Machu Picchu.
Today, the group has 16 destinations both in Chile and four other countries on its online platform, and aims to increase that to 150 by 2020.
Silberstein, the firm's chief executive, said the Patagonian trip had made him realise that nothing was impossible.
"We realised that with the right equipment and the right information, we can help people with disabilities have these kind of experiences, to open their minds to see that we are capable of anything," he said.
"There are many initiatives to make tourism more accessible because it's a gigantic opportunity; in just the United States and Europe, $72 billion is spent on tourism by disabled people each year."
"But no one is doing it on a global level, matching tourism services with the specific needs of disabled people. That's what we do," he said.
(Production: Jorge Vega)
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