According to the Disability discrimination Act 1995 a disabled person is defined as somebody who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. (Directgov 2010)
According to Disability facts 2009; 60 million people worldwide are living with disability, which equals to 10-20% of a countries population having a disability. Figures also show that 8 million disabled people in Europe take trips aboard at least once a year. The figures show that people with disabilities are important customers among the travel industry, so it is important that tourism suppliers are able to recognize the needs of people with disabilities.
From the literature on the subject of disability and travel it has become clear that people with disabilities have the same desires to travel as someone without a disability. However particatipation in tourism requires many elements such as physical, mental and social. These elements can be compromised by someone with a disability.
The literature on tourism and disabilities mainly focuses on the experiences of the mobility impaired. However work done by a group of researchers in Hong Kong carried research out on people with mobility and vision impairments. They found that entry or re-entry into tourism requires fives stages: the first stage is the Personal stage; at this stage priorities lay in the recovery and rehabilitation, tourism is seen as impossible at this stage. The second stage is reconnection; this is the period of self discovery. The third stage is travel analysis stage; this stage involves weighing up the possibilities of travel. The fourth stage is the physical journey; people with disabilities need to make compromises and adopt a number of strategies in order to manage and enjoy their tourism experience. Tourist will have to overcome the environmental and interactive barriers at this stage. The final stage is Reflection Stage; the final stage is the reflection of the trip which may in fact determine whether the individual will travel again. A positive experience will build confidence and a negative experience may inhibit any future tourism activity.
In the book Tourism as a modern synthesis it has been identified that people with disabilities will face a number of barriers , which can be sub categorized into two main barriers; Internal barriers ( these barriers happen before the trip) and Exogenous barriers (these barriers happen during the trip). Internal barriers include intrinsic and economic barriers, intrinsic barriers are factors such as the lack of knowledge about a destination, there is the worry about having appropriate social skills, there are also concerns over health issues and whether travel is seen as the right thing to do. Economic barriers are the worries over the affordability of travel. Exogenous barriers include environmental and interactive. Environmental barriers are the concerns over safety, rules and regulations, even paths and trails. Interactive barriers include concerns over attitudes of the workers and the accuracy of information provided. (Kwai-sang Yau, et al 2004)
There is much speculation that if these barriers where removed that there will be an increase in tourism participation. Under the DDA progress is been made to remove some of these barriers. Under the DDA it has been made illegal for service providers to discriminate against a person with a disability. Under the DDA any service provider that provides a service to the public in the UK, has the duty to make their services accessible to someone with a disability.
It is clear from the literature that travel among disabled people is not as simple as it would be for someone without a disability. There are a number of social and physical barriers that have to face even before the act of travel has even taken place. It may in fact be true that that removing these barriers would increase the tourism participation rates. Much work is been done by service providers to ease the physical barriers, however the social barriers need to be removed too; this is beyond the limitations of the tourism suppliers.
Directgov. (2010). Tourism and the Disability Discrimination Act. Available: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/TravelHolidaysAndBreaks/TravelAndHolidaysInTheUk/DG_4019030. Last accessed 21 March 2010
Kwai-sang Yau, M, McKercher, B and Packer,T.(2004) Traveling with a disability. Annals of Tourism Research,. 31 (4), 946-960
Page,S,.Connell,J,.(2006).Tourism a modern synthesis. 2nd ed.Britain :Thomson Learning .74-75.