Lifestyle USC study finds gaps in inclusive tourism

USC study finds gaps in inclusive tourism

From the sun-kissed beaches to the hilly hinterland, there’s a lot that brings more than 3.3 million visitors to Australia’s Sunshine Coast each year.

But local businesses aren’t catering for travellers with disabilities, researchers at University of the Sunshine Coast say.

In a first of it’s kind study, USC’s Dr Claudia Baldwin examined how travellers with disabilities were missing out in one of Australia’s hottest holiday destinations.

Her study found that only four per cent of Sunshine Coast accommodation providers surveyed had completely accessible rooms and only a few planned to upgrade to improve services for disabled visitors.

While most restaurants and cafés had level surfaces and clear paths of entry, less than half had accessible toilets and designated parking, and few had modified assistance such as large print menus.

Dr Baldwin said inclusive tourism in Queensland was an under-researched area, despite approximately 15 percent of the world’s population and one in five Queenslanders having a disability.

“People with disabilities want to travel and have interesting experiences,” Dr Baldwin says.

“Sometimes the smallest changes in how we design, build and offer our facilities can make monumental differences in the way of life for a person with disability.”

“My study identified strategies to assist tourism areas to become more universally accessible destinations for both tourists and locals alike”

Strategies included improving accessibility information on websites, better signage, and assistance from governments and the tourism industry to encourage businesses to upgrade venues and provide staff training programs.

“While there is a good business reason for catering for tourists with disability, the spill-over effect will open other markets such as seniors and parents with prams, and improve liveability and inclusiveness for all ages and abilities,” Dr Baldwin says.

Read more about the study’s findings here. Story credit: University of the Sunshine Coast newsroom.

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