However, to achieve this, work needs to be done to reduce the barriers which this group of people is faced with when it comes to travelling. Firstly, there is an outdated assumption that those who live with disabilities are not interested in travelling, which creates less focus on doing more to provide accessible experiences for this group. Further barriers include time, resources, untrained staff, inaccessible booking systems, unavailability of adapted faculties and unavailability of information on accessible facilities (Buhalis and Darcy, 2011, 10).
One method to open the tourism experience up to being more accessible and inclusive is through the implementation of innovative technologies. Technological advancements have meant that the term ‘’computer accessibility’’ has been introduced. This is where technology is designed to include users which previously may have been excluded. These technologies include speech recognition, screen magnifiers, and screen reading software. Reducing barriers can be linked to a recent concept, ‘’smart tourism’’, which is the connection between tourism and smart technologies. A smart tourism destination is where a specific place uses technologies in order to achieve the goals as a destination (Chung et al, 2016). There is a range of technologies available which can increase accessibility.
Mobile applications are an important technological tool which has been gaining more significance within the industry. They have the ability to be utilised in various ways to become beneficial to users. They are a way to provide information regarding the physical accessibility of destinations. This is explored through the application ‘Access Earth’, which is a mobile application designed to offer those living with mobility disabilities a chance to read reviews from people living with similar conditions and needs around the accessibility of hotels, restaurants and attractions. Users are able to rate and provide information on what facilities are available such as accessible bathrooms, parking, step-free, and wide doors. This app is beneficial for its users as although company websites provide information regarding facilities and the overall accessibility, this information may be incorrect. It is not uncommon for people to be given false information, and left disappointed on arrival. The app allows for real reviews which can provide confidence in their travelling.
Another important technology which is being used in museums to include those with hearing impairments is ‘Signly.’ Signly is a mobile application which when scanned at certain exhibits, the content will appear on their phone through signed or spoken methods. This technology is important when it comes to the issues of accessibility as it allows users to independently access the same information, and enjoy the same experience as other visitors.
Although technology has been shown to be a useful catalyst for improving accessibility in the tourism industry, there are still issues regarding excluding certain groups from being able to access the benefits from it. This is the case for groups such as the elderly, which a significant proportion (75%) suffer from some form of disability. Technology is often considered harder for the elderly to grasp compared to younger generations, in addition to conditions such as hand tremors which effect touch screen technology. Therefore, it is recommended that in future technology is implemented alongside traditional methods to improve accessibility within the industry.
Buhlalis, D., and Darcy, S. (2011) Accessible Tourism Concepts and Issues. Bristol: Channel Views.
Casari, C., Clemente, M., Francesco, M., Giusto, D., Nitti, M., Milesi, C., Popescu, V., Zanda, S. (2018) Using IoT for Accessible Tourism in Smart Cities. Available from DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.77057 [Accessed 14 May 2019].
Chung, N., Gretzel, U., Koo, C., Shin, S. (2016) Conceptualization of Smart Tourism Destinations Compeititveness. Asia Pacific Journal of Information Systems. 26(4). 367-384. Available from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314264576_Conceptualization_of_Smart_Tourism_Destinat ion_Competitiveness [Accessed 28 April 2019].
Piuchan, M., and Suntikul, W. (2016) The Study of Well-being in Tourism: An Analysis of Literature. 14th APacCHRIE Conference 2016. Bangkok. Available from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303812933_The_Study_of_WellBeing_in_Tourism_An_Analysis_of_Literature [Accessed 17 May 2019]