Contributor: Voxy News Engine
Tuesday, 28 September, 2010 – 12:18
Although guide dogs are legally protected from discrimination in New Zealand, if you’re coming to the Rugby World Cup next year, you’d better check whether your accommodation will accept them.
Access Tourism (AT) is tourism, travel, and hospitality for people with disabilities (pwds), seniors, and others needing better access and New Zealand’s
much acclaimed tourism market lags behind the rest of the world in this respect.
The need for AT products and services is going to increase exponentially over the next 20 years with the ageing of the huge Baby Boomer cohort because disability and infirmity increase with age.
Dr Sandra Rhodda, senior researcher at AUT’s New Zealand Tourism Research Institute (NZTRI), says there are no statistics in New Zealand on the loss to this country through failure to provide reliably accessible AT products and services.
“No research in this topic has been done, and there seems little awareness of the economic and sustainability reasons for researching and developing AT.
“Meanwhile in Canada, for example, pwds account for $25 billion in consumer spending and in Australia the accessible tourism market is believed to be worth around $4.8bn to the Australian economy.”
One million pwds are expected in London for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 and London has used this major sporting event to improve access tourism.
Dr Rhodda says New Zealand lags abysmally around RWC2011 with quotes on tourism websites suggesting guide dogs may not be welcome in some accommodation and that ‘most’ facilities have wheelchair access but that visitors should check.
“What are we doing? This is a potentially incredibly lucrative market for us. 10-20 per cent of our traditional and new tourism markets report a disability.
By 2030 New Zealanders over the age of 65 will have doubled to 1.2 million. Pwds tend to travel with companions, so any business that is not accessible to PwDs also looses the custom of those companions. It’s a huge untapped market,” Dr Rhodda says.
NZTRI is hosting a one-day conference on Access Tourism on Monday October 4, 9am-5pm at AUT University. A programme of speakers follows. Abstracts for presentations are available for most speakers. If you’d like to hear more about this lucrative market and what New Zealand needs to do to catch up to the rest of the world, please contact: Lara Vodanovich, 921 9615, firstname.lastname@example.org . Attendance is free for media but you must register your interest.