Attitudes to disabled tourists found to be Fawlty

Kedleston Road campus 504x257 Attitudes to disabled tourists found to be Fawlty

Date posted: 27 May 2014

Too many holiday resorts in southern Europe have a Basil Fawlty approach to disabled tourists, research at the University of Derby Buxton has shown.

Dr Eleni Michopoulou will tell the Destinations For All World Summit on accessible tourism that one of the major barriers to making resorts inclusive is still attitude.

One seaside resort astounded Dr Michopoulou with answers to her research questions which had a bluntness worthy of the hapless hotelier in television's Fawlty Towers.

"They even said they didn't want disabled tourists - they did not fit their market, and if they came, other tourists would leave," she said.

Destinations For All, to be held in October in Montreal, is the first world summit dealing with accessible tourism, which has never been more vital to the industry. Some experts claim that 15 per cent of tourists have disabilities, and with an ageing world population, demand for accessible tourism can only grow.

Dr Michopoulou carried out the research with help from German student Isabell Broich to look at accessibility and its importance to the sustainability of the industry.

They found a wide range of attitudes, with the northern European countries and Scandinavia being the most aware of accessibility issues, central European states less so and southern countries lagging behind.

The law, an awareness of the issues and each society's attitude all played a part in how welcome disabled tourists were.

"There are attitudinal barriers that need to be overcome," said Dr Michopoulou.

Students at the University of Derby Buxton who will become the tourism industry managers of the future, however, are taught an in-depth awareness of the issue and the kind of customer service needed to provide an inclusive experience.

The research will be presented in two papers, Michopoulou, E. & Buhalis, D. (2014) 'An investigation of European destination management organisations' attitudes towards accessible tourism', and Broich, I. & Michopoulou, E. (2014) "Can accessible tourism be sustainable? A link between accessibility and sustainability."

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