News

“Accessibility in tourism environments and services – label for high quality”


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

At present accessibility in tourism organizations, attractions and services has been taken into account variably.  Basically it has been perceived as feature which will be needed for special customers and in special cases instead of indicator of high quality and design for all. Successful solutions of accessibility will provide added value in services and environments both for the customers and also for service providers themselves. It is often question about attitudes and skills to utilize accessibility positively as common benefit in tourism attractions. There can still be found also the fear to be stigmatized as a tourist resort just for people with special access needs. That is why it is very reasonable to act for the positive attitudes and utilization of accessibility in practice together with enterprises, organizations offering tourism services and the end users who have personal experience on utilizing the tourism services. The key to tapping into this expanding customer base is to provide mainstream services that are attractive and accessible for all.

Accessibility shall also been noticed in marketing, services and in information media. It is a question about total benefits in accessible tourism attractions. In marketing it will mean perceiving of different features and abilities of customers to receive information of available possibilities. In services it will mean for example abilities and attitudes of the employees to meet people with special access needs. In information it will mean for example various methods by which the communication between service providers and customers will be natural and convenient. Leisure time and also economical welfare and resources make it possible to travel in home country and also abroad. Internet and social media have enabled for customers to look, compare and purchase their trips independently. That is why accessibility must also appear clearly in marketing and informing of the attractions.

Accessibility shall be understood as larger ensemble that will cover built environment, equipment and devices, services, information and attitudes. Any single solution in itself related to those items above will not solve the problem.  Benefits of accessibility do not simplify only elderly or disabled tourists but also all the other customers assuring high quality in tourism services and environments.

 Photo:  Accessible pier in Ruunaa Hiking Area by Keijo Penttine

 

Timo Ekroos

Karelia University of Applied Sciences

Centre for Creative Industries

Centre for Innovations for Independent Living, ISAK

timo.ekroos@karelia.fi