2017: Towards equal tourism participation and inclusive working environments: access, security and wellbeing > Making tourism accessible to all
Accessible tourism in Spain
Discussion paper of accessible tourism in Spain
This discussion paper of accessible tourism in Spain will cover the main points of the physical accessibility by using the example of the city Barcelona in Spain. First will be introduced which are the categories of accessible tourism and its tourism markets in Spain to give the overall knowledge of this topic. Critical evaluation of Barcelona’s accessibility will be examined in this paper.
Keywords: Accessibility, Europe, Spain, Barcelona, Accessible tourism, Physical accessibility
Accessible tourism has been defined as form of tourism involving collaborative processes between stakeholders enabling people with access requirements, including mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive dimensions of access, to function independently and with equity and dignity through the delivery of tourism products, services and environments which are universally designed. People who are categorised with temporary or permanent need of mobility or special access requirements are disabled people, seniors, obese, families with young children and those working in safer and more socially sustainably designed environments (Buhalis and Darcy, 2011). Mobility and physical disability are areas where the individual needs physical support while traveling or visiting destinations (Buhalis and Darcy, 2011).
In the whole Europe over 125 million people have accessibility needs and this number has been estimated to grow in the next thirty years (Michopoulou and Buhalis, 2013). Only amongst Spain citizens 3.8 million people are disabled with accessibility needs which is representing 8.5% of the whole population of Spain. Catalonian region and especially Barcelona had over 12 million tourists visiting the region and the city between January and August in 2016. Spain is one of the countries in the world which is using strict accessibility regulations for the main structural aspects (Vila et al, 2014). One of the core tourism marketing programs in Spain and especially in Catalonia is tourism for everyone. This program is promoting to enable tourism accessible for everyone and make it as comfortable and easily enjoyable as possible. It has been said that the basic pillars and barriers of accessibility should be met in order to make the city accessible for all. These basic pillars and barriers are architectural, town planning, transportation and communication as well as leisure activities which should all be accessible for people with special needs (Dominguez et al, 2013).
Barcelona being one of the most popular destinations in Europe it has improved its accessibility since the Olympics 1992. Barcelona has five segments which it has improved and are continuing to improve in its accessibility. These five segments are accessibility for blind people and to people with visual difficulties, deaf and hearing difficulties, wheelchair users and motor impaired and their helpers and to people with learning disability. Barcelona has many good point in its accessibility such as most of the underground stations are accessible by wheelchair and all the bus and tram lines are accessible by wheelchair. Four UNESCO attractions has been said to be accessible but while these attractions are accessible for some they still have barriers such as their location on the hill or stairs to get inside which are a major accessibility issue for people in a wheelchair.
Barcelona has made some good improvement in its accessibility as a tourism destination but there are still some places where improvements could be done. While most of the underground stations are accessible for all there are few which are near the most popular tourist attractions which are not accessible for all. Bus and tram lines are accessible for all but there is no visual map to see the lines and directions of the buses and trams. Accommodations options and restaurants has notified to be most inaccessible in Barcelona as they are mainly old structured buildings and services which have not been updated to meet the requirements of accessibility.
To conclude the summarised discussion of accessibility in Spain and especially in Barcelona it can be said that while there are many good points what Barcelona has done to its city in terms of its accessibility there is still ways to improve the city. Architecture and structure of its buildings are the next points for offering barrier free accommodations and restaurants and truly tourism for everyone.
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Dominguez, T., Fraiz, J. and Alen, E. (2013) Economic profitability of accessible tourism for the tourism sector in Spain. Tourism Economics. 19(6) 1385-1399.
Michopoulou, E. and Buhalis, D. (2013) Information provision for challenging markets: The case of the accessibility requiring market in the context of tourism. Information & marketing. 50(5) 229-240.
Vila, T., Darcy, S. and Gonzalez E. (2014) Competing for the disability tourism market- A comparative exploration of the factors of accessible tourism competitiveness in Spain and Australia. Tourism Management. 47 261-273.
Disable group are a next booming market for Tourism industry
With the development of technology, the world has become a global village. As a result, the world population is exposed to a never before seen rate of tourism where tourists have had the pleasure of visiting different locations world over. Such privileges are meant to be enjoyed by all and sundry but unlikely the disabled community of the world has not had the privilege to benefit from tourism as the normal people have done in a long time. The tourism environment is mainly designed to accommodate the normal people and gives little consideration to the disabled in the society. Research records that the tourist locations are quite inaccessible for the disabled and some of the tourist facilities are exclusively for the normal such as bungee jumping and rock climbing (Aleksandrova, 2014). Considering that tourism involves social, mental and physical abilities, it is quite apparent that the disabled persons are locked out of such physical tourism.
Often, the normal people are in a constant hurry and do not appreciate activities that seem to consume their time. The physically challenged people tend to take extra time in carrying out activities, and as a result, in tourist sites, such populations are highly marginalized which might kill their morale on partaking more of tourism activities. Accommodation and travel are also a bother for the physically challenged population where there has been confirmation that incases that physically challenged people don’t have a clear map of their travel and accommodation they will cancel travel which affects tourism negatively (Gassiot Melian, Prats and Coromina, 2016).
Following these challenges, there is the constant need to implement rules and mechanisms that protect the disabled population and promotes tourism among them as well. Rules such as to cut levies for these section of the population will increase the frequency of disabled persons in tourist sites and might reduce the prejudice against disabled people as their numbers in the tourist sites increase (Vaughan, 2016). Increasing accessibility to tourist sites to take care of the disabled through increased lots in parking lots, installing resources that ease movement of disabled within sites will increase the number of disabled tourists and promotes the marketing of tourism to this untapped market (Israeli, 2012).
Tolerance should be encouraged in the tourism industry where the normal population is constantly reminded to tolerate and appreciate the disabled will go a long way in encouraging this section of the population to travel and see the world more (Sediva Neckarova, 2015). Tourist attractions that are both accessible and unique to the disabled should be introduced where the disabled feel special. Such facilities will create an ample environment for the physically challenged to experience tourism in a manner that does not marginalize them or is inaccessible. Lowering the fees for the disabled will encourage a lot of others to travel and tour the world hence promoting this market of the disabled.
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Gassiot Melian, A., Prats, L. and Coromina, L. (2016). The perceived value of accessibility in religious sites – do disabled and non-disabled travellers behave differently?. Tourism Review, 71(2), pp.105-117.
Israeli, A. (2002). A Preliminary Investigation of the Importance of Site Accessibility Factors for Disabled Tourists. Journal of Travel Research, 41(1), pp.101-104.
Sediva Neckarova, A. (2015). Accessibility of Tourist Attractions to People With Mobility Impairments and People with Visual Impairments in the Town of Jihlava. International Journal of Management Science and Business Administration, 2(8), pp.7-15.
Vaughan, D. (2016). Challenges in Tourism Research, Tourism Management, 57, pp, 10-11
Development of the accessible tourism market
The above paper first discusses the definition of accessible Tourism. According to accessible travel January report, accessible tourism is a sustained effort to ensure that travel destinations, products and services are accessible to all, regardless of their physical limitations, disability or age. It includes public and private tourist sites. This improvement is not only beneficial to those who have permanent physical disabilities, including those with children, old traveler and disabled people.
However, According to Buhalis said, the demand for accessibility in Europe alone exceeded 126 million in 2005, more than 27% of the European population in the period. There is evidence that a substantial increase in the accessible tourism market, but the analysis provides information indicating that only a small percentage of market demand for accessible tourism addresses (Buhalis, 2005). It is estimated that more than 25% of European citizens do not take holidays due to perceived barriers to accessible travel (European Commission, 1996).
On the other hand, the accessible tourism is a significant part for travel market. However, the tourism industry has provided limited progress in the market with accessible products. In order to measure the value and potential of the tourism demand side, it is important to identify the prevalence of disability. It is possible to try to quantify the potential economic value of accessible tourism. In addition, using the population of the elderly (>65 years old) to estimate the market value, the paper puts forward the total accessible tourism market value, and then carries on the comprehensive analysis of the potential value of the accessible tourism market. (Buhalis, 2005)
Nevertheless, according to the above discussion paper analyzed, in Barcelona have five segments to improved and continuing to improve in its accessibility. And then, whether in any city, there is still a clear lack of awareness of tourism accessibility and demand degree of access, although it is well understood, there is a related market segments, poor service. The lack of awareness relates to the extent of demand, but for some people it also defines accessible tourism. This is obviously the different level of consciousness, most managers do not know access to tourism as a concept or definition, but they also largely do not know what functions contribute to an accessible product. Previous studies looking for accommodation management view, many managers do not even know their hotel room access function, let alone provide detailed information on any level, whether to establish a disabled room (Ozturk, 2008). Some people believe that tourism operators largely ignore the special needs of the disabled, leading to overt or covert discrimination (McKercher, 2003).
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McKercher, B (2003). ‘Travel agents as facilitators or inhibitors of travel: perceptions of people with disabilities’. Tourism Management. p. 465-474.
Ozturk, Y. (2008). ‘Is the Turkish tourism industry ready for a disabled customer's market?: The views of hotel and travel agency managers. Tourism management.