All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak

All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak
All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak - © Jennifer Johnson 2008

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Economic Contribution of Accessible Tourism

One of the most frequent questions asked by advocates and industry alike is “what is the value of the accessible tourism market?”. There are surprisingly few studies that have examined this question. The following discussion is an updated extract from a recent article that presents a summary economic estimate studies  (Darcy & Dickson, 2009).

A number of the seminal studies first drew attention to the market potential of the accessible tourism in the US, UK and Canada through using national secondary data sources and extrapolating the market potential of the group (Keroul, 1995; Reedy, 1993; Touche Ross, 1993). This work was then extended by Australian, US, German and European researchers to estimate the value of accessible tourism within their localities by researching travel patterns and using gross demand estimates based on the population estimates of disability within communities. These included:
·         Australia -              $A1.3 billion (Darcy, 1998);
·         US -                       $US13 billion (HarrisInteractive Market Research, 2002, 2005; Van Horn, 2007);
·         Germany -             €2.5 billion (Neumann & Reuber, 2004); and
·         Europe -                €80 billion (Buhalis, Michopoulou, Eichhorn, & Miller, 2005).

The above studies were based on domestic estimates of the potential market of people with disabilities. The exceptions to this were in the US and Australia where the estimates included data on the travel patterns as a proportion of people with disabilities who take a holiday each year. From an inbound perspective, less work has been done on the travel patterns of people with disabilities when they travel internationally. With the limited work that has been completed, it has been estimated that 7-8% of international travellers have a disability (Darcy, 2003; HarrisInteractive Market Research, 2005) and it is this group who directly contribute to increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the economy through inbound tourism being an invisible export (Dwyer, Forsyth, & Spurr, 2004). While these studies used the best available data for their time, economists had questioned the validity and reliability of gross demand estimates (Dwyer, et al., 2004)

Dwyer and Darcy (2008), through the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre drew on a more sophisticated approach utilising the Tourism Satellite Accounts (Dwyer, Deery, Jago, Spurr, & Fredline, 2007) to bring about a more reliable estimate of the economic contribution of accessible tourism together with other major national secondary data sources of the Disability, Ageing and Carers Survey (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004) and the National Visitor Survey (Bureau of Tourism Research, 2003). The other contribution of this work was to estimate the latent demand that could be further developed through a more considered approach to enabling accessible tourism (Dwyer & Darcy, 2008). This work estimates that the economic contribution of domestic overnight accessible tourism to the Australian economy is A$4.8bn or approximately 11 percent of the current tourism market. Yet, the potential domestic overnight accessible tourism market was estimated to be worth A$8.7bn or potential latent demand of A$3.9bn (Dwyer & Darcy, 2008). These figures do not incorporate the inbound potential as no valid and reliable research is available to estimate the contribution of this segment. Table 1 provides detailed expenditure data derived from the National Visitor Survey for overnight stays.

Table 1 Detailed expenditure data derived from the National Visitor Survey for overnight stays (Dwyer & Darcy 2008)

*Please note that VisitEngland’s most recent UK Tourism Survey (ENAT, 2009) has for the first time included a disability module. This data will provide an opportunity for comparative travel patterns between people with disabilities and the nondisabled to be analysed. Hopefully Visit England will be encouraged to develop economic estimates of accessible tourism from this valuable data.

Question to Readers of the Blog
Are there other economic estimate or contribution studies that readers know about? Please send copies & I will incorporate these into this blog.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2004). Disability Ageing and Carers Summary Of Findings, 2003 (Cat No. 4430.0). Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Buhalis, D., Michopoulou, E., Eichhorn, V., & Miller, G. (2005). Accessibility market and stakeholder analysis - One-Stop-Shop for Accessible Tourism in Europe (OSSATE). Surrey, United Kingdom: University of Surrey.
Bureau of Tourism Research (2003). National visitor survey: travel by Australians Retrieved 10 September, 2007, from
Darcy, S. (1998). Anxiety to access: tourism patterns and experiences of New South Wales people with a physical disability. Sydney: Tourism New South Wales.
Darcy, S., & Dickson, T. (2009). A Whole-of-Life Approach to Tourism: The Case for Accessible Tourism Experiences. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 16(1), 32-44.
Dwyer, L., & Darcy, S. (2008). Chapter 4 - Economic contribution of disability to tourism in Australia. In S. Darcy, B. Cameron, L. Dwyer, T. Taylor, E. Wong & A. Thomson (Eds.), Technical Report 90040: Visitor accessibility in urban centres (pp. 15-21). Gold Coast: Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre.
Dwyer, L., Deery, M., Jago, L., Spurr, R., & Fredline, L. (2007). Adapting the Tourism Satellite Account Conceptual Framework to Measure the Economic Importance of the Meetings Industry. Tourism Analysis, 12(4), 247-255.
Dwyer, L., Forsyth, P., & Spurr, R. (2004). Evaluating tourism's economic effects: new and old approaches. Tourism Management, 25(3), 307-317.
ENAT (2009). UK Tourism Firms Encouraged to Improve Accessibility Retrieved 8 January, 2010, from
HarrisInteractive Market Research (2002). Research among adults with disabilities - travel and hospitality. Chicago: Open Doors Organization.
HarrisInteractive Market Research (2005). Research among adults with disabilities - travel and hospitality. Chicago: Open Doors Organization.
Keroul (1995). Tourism for People with Restricted Physical Ability. Quebec: Keroul.
Neumann, P., & Reuber, P. (2004). Economic Impulses of Accessible Tourism for All (Vol. 526). Berlin: Study commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology & Federal Ministry of Economic and Labour (BMWA).
Reedy, J. (1993). Marketing to consumers with disabilities: how to identify and meet the growing market needs of 43 million Americans. Chicago, Ill: Probus Pub Co.
Touche Ross (1993). Profiting from Opportunities - A new market for tourism. London: Touche Ross & Co.
Van Horn, L. (2007). Disability Travel In The United States: Recent Research And Findings. Paper presented at the 11th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED) - "Benchmarking, Evaluation and Vision for the Future". , June 18-22, 2007, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.

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