Sir Philip Craven has praised a project which will see tourist destinations made more accessible ©Getty Images

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has praised plans unveiled by Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor Eduardo Paes, which aim to improve accessibility at major tourist attractions ahead of next year’s Paralympic Games.

The “Accessible Routes Project” was announced last week, while Craven was visiting the Brazilian city, with the six month long programme set to see around 4,000 square metres of accessible pavements built and 5,831 square metres of concrete resurfacing take place at entrances to 10 popular locations.

“Rio's municipal government, led by Mayor Eduardo Paes, deserve huge credit for announcing this significant project that will improve the lives of millions of Rio residents but also the many visitors who take in these stunning tourist attractions each year,” the IPC President said.

"Due to the very nature of the city's geography, Rio can be a difficult place to get around and realistically it will take more than a generation to transform it into one that is accessible for all.

"However, thanks to the Paralympic Games heading to the city in 2016, improving accessibility for all is now a hot topic.”

The project will see nearly $1 million (£650,000/€900,000) of accessibility improvements take place at tourist sites including Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana beach and Corcovado, the mountain which boasts the world famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

Barra da Tijuca beach, Paço Imperial, Jardim Botânico, Vista Chinesa, Mesa do Imperador and the public squares of Praça XV and Cinelândia have also been included in the plans as major tourist destinations which will receive improvements.

Corcovado, the mountain where the Christ the Redeemer statue is based, will be one of the 10 destinations to receive improvements
Corcovado, the mountain where the Christ the Redeemer statue is based, will be one of the 10 destinations to receive improvements ©Getty Images

Among the enhancements set to be carried out at the sites will be the installation of ramps and tactile flooring, the removal of obstacles, the levelling of pavements and roads and the upgrading of bus stops and car parks.

“When a city wins the right to stage the Paralympic Games, you cannot expect it to become fully accessible overnight or in the seven years leading up to the Opening Ceremony,” said Craven.

“The key is for the Games to act as a catalyst for further improvements to take place after the Paralympics.

“Therefore, I hope these improvements are just the start of greater things to come.”

In addition to the new project, several initiatives are already taking place around the city centre to improve accessibility, including work on Rio's Bus Rapid Transit system and Light Rail Vehicle so they have the capability to accommodate all passengers.

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