Learning from Similar Tourism Research (part 2): Accessibility

Image Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary

In our last post, we discussed how audience interest in arts & tourism cultural events exists, but there lacks a method for connecting visitors with all potential events.  In this post, we will again refer to initiatives taken by the European Commission to appeal to tourists.  One of the recurring themes in their research was the importance of accessiblity.  Accessiblity here refers to both making it easier for tourists to find relevant tours and events as well as accommodating those tourists who come from different backgrounds or have various capabilities.  Someone may be travelling with a family member or friend who might need more assistance, particularly because of a disability.  As mentioned in the EU research:

‘According to the UN, an estimated 650 million people in the world live with disabilities. Together with their families, that means approximately 2 billion people are directly affected by disability, representing almost a third of the world’s population.’

The process for travelling starts when a tourist is still at home, from packing a suitcase with all the necessary equipment, getting themselves and their baggage to the airport or stations, arriving to their destination, and getting to their accommodation.  From there, they need to think about how to get to an event or venue.  Therefore, important information should also be made available on websites concerning the venues or grounds where events are being held to assist with the travelling process.

Including information such as wheelchair accessibility, distance from car parks, food & water availability, and number of restrooms, along with event times, locations, and dates, to open source event data should be essential if we are to make events accessible in every sense of the word.  These factors can make planning a lot easier for tourists.  Many tourists are older people who have retired and have plenty of leisurely time.  This presents a large and important sector of tourists, especially as the population is aging.  They have essential, every day requirements that they must consider even when they travel.  Knowing where they can access water, especially for free,  how far the car park lot is, or if a location is wheelchair accessible, might be deciding factors in whether or not they will attend an event.

Everyone wants to feel included, and there is no reason for not ensuring that every person’s needs are being considered as important, especially since this type of information can easily be included in an open data source.  If organisations or event planners take the time to evaluate a venue or grounds for accessibility, it can translate into hundreds of potential visitors to an event – well-worth the effort!  Additionally, this work usually only has to be done once if an event takes place at the same location every year.  Since the data is open, it can also be reused by other organisations if they hold events are the same location.  These are only just a few possibilities for utilising open data related to accessibility information.  In the next post, we will be discussing how open data can be used for tourism collaboration.

Read the previous post: Learning from Similar Tourism Research (part 1): Audience Interest