Tourism disability access fraught with difficulty

Published: Thu 24 Nov 2005 04:33 PM
Disability access in NZ tourism fraught with difficulty
Access for disabled tourists to New Zealand’s wilderness and outdoors lifestyle remains fraught with difficulty, says AUT University sport and recreation senior lecturer Dr Geoff Dickson.
“New Zealand’s provision of tourism for people with a disability is good, but not great,” he says. “At least, not yet.
“There is a high awareness of issues by tourism professionals catering to people with a disability. But this is not always reflected in the design of tourism activities and facilities.”
He says although New Zealand law requires every new building and major reconstruction to provide ‘reasonable and adequate’ access for people with disabilities, it’s still difficult for disabled people to enjoy the great outdoors.
Dr Dickson says commercial operators do the best they can but sometimes struggle to justify the investment in what many see as a niche market.
A public seminar at AUT next Monday by Australian expert in accessible tourism, Dr Simon Darcy, will challenge the New Zealand tourism industry to consider disability needs.
The New Zealand Tourism Research Institute (NZTRI), an AUT University-based research centre, is hosting the event, which will discuss: Setting a Research Agenda for Accessible Tourism – Opportunities for New Zealand.
Dr Dickson, who will attend the seminar, says a trend lost on many tourist industry providers is the increased level of disability as people get older.
“As the world’s population ages, there will be demand for the tourism industry to be more disability friendly. This is one of the ongoing challenges New Zealand’s tourism industry must meet in the 21st century.”
The seminar will outline disability as a legitimate area of tourism research, from demand, supply, coordination and regulation. It will discuss alternatives to the dominant medical approaches through human rights, social model and biopsychological approaches to disability.
Dr Darcy will examine the outcome of a Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC) agenda for accessible tourism and provide NZTRI members the opportunity to discuss ideas for collaborative accessible tourism research in New Zealand and the Pacific Rim.
Dr Simon Darcy is research director for the School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism at the University of Technology in Sydney. In 2005, he and other research partners received research funding from the STCRC to run a national workshop on setting a research agenda for accessible tourism in Australia. The draft report from this workshop is in the final stages of publication.
This seminar will examine the strategic research directions suggested from the workshop and possible application of a similar process in New Zealand. It is open to any individual with an interest in tourism and/or disability issues.
NZTRI brings together experts in tourism with the goal to develop timely and innovative research solutions for the industry and those who depend on it.
Seminar: Tourism and People with disabilities: A strategic approach
Date: November 28, 2005
Time: 12pm
Venue: AUT University, WH125
Corner Wellesley Street East & Mayoral Drive
AUT University
All welcome

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