Identifying the Most Accessible Tourism Destinations in the World
By Ana Rucci and Dr Natalia Porto
Masters research candidate Ms Anna Rucci and Dr Natalia Porto from the National University of La Plata (Argentina) along with Professor Simon Darcy of the University of Technology-Sydney are undertaking a joint research project inspired by the UN World Tourism Organization’s commitment to accessible Tourism. The project aims to develop a universal methodology which can measure accessibility in tourism as a competitive factor across different countries
The research is built on an examination of overarching tourism destination competitiveness from a disability and accessibility perspective. This takes into account the population of people with disabilities, legal frameworks and government capacity to implement legislation which supports tourism infrastructure and services which cater to travellers with disabilities. Special focus is given to accessibility at World Heritage sites declared by UNESCO.
The researchers identified that relatively little research has been conducted by tourism academics in this area. Some exceptions include the work of Ritchie and Crouch (2003), Barbosa (2008) and Darcy and Dominguez (2015). This project is designed to make an important contribution to enhancing the travel and tourism experience of people with disabilities. The work of the authors of this article have initially been applied to South American countries. It measured a variety of variable including: 1. Government disability policies 2. Tourism policies for people with disabilities (including access at hotels) 3. Accessiblity for people with disabilities at key tourism attractions The measures of accessibility are designed to show if accessibility for travelers with disabilities is enhanced, it will contribute to a growth in tourism flows to a destination. In preliminary research conducted in South America it has been demonstrated that Brazil and Argentina were the most accessible countries in the region and that accessibility did contribute to improved tourism flows. The research will be developed to have global applications.
The sheer number of travelers with disabilities may surprise many travel industry professionals. In 2010 the researchers indentified that in 2010 12.7% of Argentinians and 23.9 % of Brazilians were identified as having at least on disability. When we translate this into global travellers we are talking of a vast global market of people who have disabilities and require some sort of consideration or assistance to enable them to travel and experience the destinations they wish to visit. Even on the most conservative measures people with disabilities account for one in ten global tourists which makes them far more than just a niche market.
Brazil and Argentina have largely adhered to international treaties. From a tourism perspective the most important of these has been the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disablities (CRPWD) which were signed by Brazil and Argentina in 2007.
Summary of results for Brazil and Argentina
People with Disabilities : Argentina 5.2 Million Brazil 45.5 million Accessible Tourism: Both Argentina and Brazil have had an accessible tourism program since 2011 Accessible World Heritage Sites: Argentina 3 totally accessible 1 partially accessible, 3 non accessibleBrazil 4 totally accessible 2 Partially accessible 11 non accessible./p>