This aims to add further knowledge on the effects of travel on people with physical disabilities in relation to accessibility and how travel is impacted because of this. Secondary data will be utilised for the basis of the knowledge. In addition, a semi-structured interview was conducted, providing research into the experiences of one person with physical disabilities, using their personal narratives to better understand the travel patterns and behaviours of disabled travellers.
Accessibility; Accessible Tourism; Physical Disability; Disabled Travellers; Marginalisation; Barriers to Travel
The disabled population worldwide represents over 500 million people, therefore constituting around 8% of the overall population (Var et al., 2011, 599). Therefore, access to tourism for the disabled is an important issue, with this segment representing a large potential for the consumer market within the tourism industry. For that reason, the aim of this is to add further knowledge about this market segment, by assessing the effects of travel on physically disabled people, looking at accessibility as an issue, and how travel is impacted because of this.
According to the UK Equality Act (2010) disability means â€œhaving a physical or mental impairment that has a â€˜substantialâ€™ and â€˜long termâ€™ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activitiesâ€ (GOV.UK, 2017). Therefore, disability can be broken down into four different categories; hearing, sight, physical deficiencies and intelligence deficiencies.
People who live with a disability face many challenges that can have an impact upon their participation in many activities, tourism is an example of one activity that involves the cooperation of physical, mental and social capabilities, therefore this can prohibit someone with a disability and compromise their participation (Var et al., 2011). Thus, those facing a physical disability must consider more barriers to travel, such as accessibility, accommodation, location or transportation etc. which can have a negative impact upon the way they experience tourism.
A semi-structured interview was conducted to provide further insight into the tourism experiences of one person with physical disabilities, using personal narratives to better understand the travel patterns and behaviours of the physically disabled. The participant expressed feelings of marginalisation because of her physical disability, discussing constraints that she had and the barriers she faced when it came to accessibility, such as accommodation, attractions, locations etc. These findings, correlate back to a study conducted by Turco et al (1998) who conducted interviews with disabled travellers. His findings also displayed commonality of the constrains pertaining to attractions and accommodation, such as that displayed by the participant (Turco et al, 1998). Therefore, this validates the need for further measures to be enacted to help alleviate some of the barriers that the physically disabled face. Some of the measures could include the need for regulations, that could increase disabled facilities, resources and attractions to make it accessible by those with a physical disability. In addition, reduced fees need to be put into place in attractions where the physically disabled are prohibited in partaking.
Additionally, the primary research also revealed that location choices were predominantly made by the participant in conjunction with her disability. Because of this, she tended to choose UK seaside resorts as a primary choice because of its reliability for wheelchair friendly facilities, as well as being more cost friendly. In addition, many other disabled travellers also felt that location and site accessibility was an extensive decision-making process, as highlighted in a study by Israeli (2002). It was argued that without sufficient information pertaining to the accessibility of a location, then disabled visitors would make a conscious decision not to go (Israeli, 2002, 103). Therefore, to increase the accessibility of a site, it is vital for further measures to be implemented to improve the ease of access and increase visitation for disabled visitors as well as the improvement of marketing initiatives. Additionally, equality of travel would be further promoted, providing a wider range of locations and attractions for disabled tourists, giving them equal access to those without a disability.
To provide a more in depth understanding of the impacts of tourism and accessibility to travel for those facing a physical disability, further exploration is needed of disabled touristâ€™s experiences, with a particular focus upon more qualitative methods. This will provide a better understanding of their travel behaviours and the barriers they face in tourism. Additionally, academic research needs to be further developed to promote disabled travellers as a consumer, marketing them to tourism organisations to highlight their importance as travellers within the tourism consumer market. In addition, promoting equal access for all and the promotion of further initiatives need to be put into place. This would also help to expand the knowledge about these types of travellers, which is needed to further educate the importance of equality to travel and to provide a better understanding about physically disabled travellers behaviour, their taxonomy and characteristics.
Israeli, A. (2002) A preliminary investigation of the importance of site accessibility factors for disabled tourists. Journal of Travel Research, 41(1) 101 â€“ 104.
Turco, D., Stumbo, N. and Garncarz, J. (1998) Tourism constraints for people with disabilities. Parks and Recreation, 33(9) 78 â€“ 84.
Var, T., Yesiltas, M., Yayli, A. and Ozturk, Y. (2011) A Study on the Travel Patterns of Physically Disabled People. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 16(6) 599 â€“ 618.