Jan 9, 2012
In 2011, the New Zealand National Foundation for the Deaf (NFD) commissioned the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute (NZTRI) to conduct research into the tourism, travel, and hospitality experiences and needs of people with hearing impairments. Hearing impairment ranges from slight hearing loss to total loss. The research was led by Dr. Sandra Rhodda, Research Programme Leader in Access Tourism. The research included two surveys, one for residents of New Zealand (NZ) and one for residents of countries other than NZ (Internationals, Int) who are deaf or have hearing loss.
The aim of the research was to find out what it is like to travel with hearing loss, how the travel experiences of hearing impaired people can be improved, to establish what people with hearing loss want in terms of tourism products and services, and to offer a better understanding of Access Tourism as a legitimate tourism market. It also evaluated the case for the development of a ‘Hearing Tick’ for tourism businesses that cater for people with hearing loss.
In summary, the survey found that
- The top four reasons why NZ and Int respondents travel in general are: for enjoyment (84%/91%), to connect with friends, family or partner (84%/59%), to have new experiences (65%/72%), and for relaxation (53%/57%). In other words, for the same reasons as people without hearing loss travel.
- NZ respondents on average took 7.18 overnight domestic trips during 2010; this is more than the number of domestic overnight trips (4.2) taken by NZers in general NZ respondents took either one (30%), two (11%), or three or more (10%) I trips during 2010. Forty-nine percent did not travel internationally.
- The primary reasons NZ respondents took their most recent domestic trip were to be with friends and family (31%), to holiday (25%), for business (11%), or to attend conferences (10%).
- The majority (82%) of NZ respondents travelled with at least one other person on their most recent domestic trip – mainly a spouse or partner (73%). Eighteen percent travelled alone.
- On their most recent domestic trip, NZ respondents stayed an average of 4.6 nights away from home, and spent on average $107 per person per day on transport, accommodation, activities and attractions, and food and beverage.
- Thirty-three percent of Int respondents took between three and five domestic overnight trips in their own country. The mean number of domestic overnight trips taken by Int respondents was 6.8.
- Forty percent of Int respondents did not take any international trips during 2010. Of those who did travel internationally, the majority (83%) took between one and three trips.
- Forty-three percent of Int respondents have previously visited NZ, 47% have never visited NZ but plan to do so one day; 10% have never visited and have no plans to do so.
- For those Int respondents who have been to NZ, the main reasons for their last visit were ‘holiday’ (42%), to be with friends and/or family (15%), and to attend a conference or similar event (13%). The majority (83%) of Int
respondents who visited NZ travelled with at least one other person on their
last visit – mainly their spouse or partner. Seventeen percent of Int respondents travelled by themselves to NZ. On their last visit to NZ, Int respondents stayed an average of 13.2 days.
- Just under half (46%) of NZ respondents are somewhat dissatisfied with the number of domestic overnight trips they currently take. Factors that prevent these respondents from travelling more domestically are cost (74%), a concern that their hearing needs will not be met (37%), and difficulty finding information about access for visitors with hearing loss (24%). Fifty-nine
percent of NZ respondents ‘agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’ that they would take more domestic overnight trips if the level of service for people with hearing loss across the tourism industry in NZ was improved.
- Just under half (43%) of Int respondents are somewhat dissatisfied with the number of international trips they currently take. Factors preventing Int visitors from taking more international trips are cost (73%), time
constraints (54%), concerns that their hearing needs will not be met (33%), and difficulty finding information about access for visitors with hearing loss (25%).
- Both NZ and Int respondents agree (mean 4.4-4.6 out of 5) that the most important access needs when travelling away from home include customer service staff who have a ‘can-do’ attitude and the provision of reliable information. This includes information about safety in clear print, emergency alarms in public areas that are visual as well as audible, public audio announcements also provided in text on TV screens, and customer service staff who are knowledgeable about serving guests with hearing loss.
- When asked what other things would make their travel more enjoyable and accessible, both NZ and Int respondents highlighted the importance of understanding, patient staff trained to know how to accommodate people with hearing loss, how to meet their needs, and what to do in an emergency.
- Over two-thirds (70%) of NZ and half (52%) of Int respondents indicated that it is difficult to find information about NZ tourism products that are accessible to people with hearing loss.
- Forty-two percent of NZ and 29% of Int respondents agreed with the statement that ‘information about services for the hearing impaired is often wrong or misleading’.
- The reasons most often stated by both NZ and Int respondents for not seeking
information about NZ tourism products were: a lack of knowledge on how
to seek information and a perception that it is too hard to find. Some also think the information does not exist, and that businesses do not cater for people with hearing loss.
- The majority of NZ (90%) and over half (55%) of Int respondents feel that the level of service in the NZ tourism industry for people with hearing loss needs to be improved.
- Nearly two thirds (60%) of NZ and three quarters of Int respondents indicate they would ‘often’ return to a tourism business that has good services for people with hearing loss; 64% and 76% would tell friends and family about such a business.
- The majority of both NZ (88%) and Int (89%) respondents think it is a good idea to have a hearing-rating symbol that NZ businesses could use to show they are accessible to people with hearing loss.
- The main reasons given by both domestic and Int respondents for saying the use of a ‘hearing tick’ is a good idea are: to show that people with hearing loss are
accepted and provided for, to reduce anxiety and frustration, to make the
business easily recognisable, to promote awareness by businesses of people with hearing loss, and to improve first time and repeat patronage by people with hearing loss.
- The majority of NZ (83%) and Int (91%) respondents indicate that they would visit a website that had reliable information on tourism businesses in NZ that cater for people with hearing loss.
The full report can be found on the NZTRI site and on the NFD site ( you can find the links at the link below).