Tourism industry ‘not meeting needs of disabled travellers’

‘The tourism industry isn’t doing enough for disabled or elderly travellers’ says expert.

The tourism industry isn’t doing enough to ensure travel destinations and services are accessible to disabled or elderly travellers, according to a School of Tourism expert.

Professor Dimitrios Buhalis has argued that the travel industry is failing to tap into the business opportunities posed by accessible tourism and is thus failing to properly engage with disabled travellers as consumers.

“The ongoing fallout from the global financial downturn has meant that businesses must do more to engage with consumers and look towards developing niche markets that will drive the tourism industry forward. One such market that continues to be underserved by the global tourism industry is that of people with disabilities,” says Professor Buhalis.

“Globally there are more than 650million people with disabilities, and this figure is set to rise due to the ageing of the population. This poses a considerable challenge for global tourism. The industry must take a more proactive approach to ensure that infrastructure and services are more accessible.”

Professor Buhalis, who is Deputy Director of BU’s International Centre of Tourism and Hospitality Research, explores these issues and the current theoretical approaches in his latest book Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues, published by Channel View Publications.

Co-edited by Dr Simon Darcy, from the University of Technology in Sydney, the timely book is an edited collection of contributions by leading researchers and practitioners in the field from around the world.

“Inclusion, disability and ageing population are increasingly important areas of study due to their implications for tourism demand and supply. A design for all principles will bring great opportunities for people with disabilities to access and enjoy products and services and at the same time offers a huge potential for industry,” added Professor Buhalis.