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, November 19, 2011

The embodied tourist experiences of people with vision impairment: Management implications beyond the visual gaze

Adding to Richards, Prichard and Morgan's (2010) (re)envisioning of the tourist experience, Poria, Reichel & Brandt (2011) examination of 15 in-depth interviews of blind people’s experiences of air travel, hotels and restaurants, art museums and staff behaviour, comes a new study by Small, Darcy and Packer (2011). Building on Small & Darcy’s (2011) examination of embodiement, the study uses a combination of focus groups and in-depth interviews of 40 people with vision impairment to examine their embodied tourism experiences and what constitutes quality accessible tourism for the group. One of the interesting issues for people with vision impairments or who are Blind, are the extra structural constraints for those who travel with a guide dog. Photo 1 shows Wendy David enjoying the pleasures of Hawaii with her guide dog, which has quarantine implications depending upon the country travelling to, specific air travel requirements and a series of customer service attitudes that have included the exclusion of guide dogs from premises even though it contravenes disability discrimination legislation.  Central to Small, Darcy and Packer (2011) study is the examination of Urry’s concept of the "visual” gaze and how the visual has dominated our understanding of tourism. The abstract is provided.

Photo 1: Wendy David and guide dog enjoying the pleasures of Hawaii -  used with permission © Wendy David

This paper reports the findings of a qualitative study that investigated the embodied tourist experiences of 40 people who are vision impaired. The study, informed by the concept of “embodied ontology”, explored the corporeal and socially constructed experience of tourism. The findings highlighted the benefit of holidays for the participants and de-centred the “visual gaze” in the tourist experience. The quality of the tourist experience related to participants’ feelings of inclusion or exclusion in terms of their access to information, experience of wayfinding, travelling with a guide dog, and the knowledge and attitudes of others. It was evident that participants needed to manage their tourist experiences closely and constantly. The paper concludes that the tourism industry and community must understand the multi-sensory nature of the tourist experience if quality accessible experiences are to be available for tourists with vision impairment. Provision of multi-sensory experiences also enhances the experiences of sighted tourists.

►People with vision impairment have been omitted in the tourism research literature. ► The “visual gaze” constrains our understanding of the embodied nature of tourism. ► Structural constraints disable tourism environments, services and attitudes. ► The embodied nature of vision impairment requires spatial and sensory understanding. ► Experiences can be enhanced through tactility, aroma, movement and sound.

Keywords: Vision impairment; Blind; Sensory; Embodiment; Disability; Tourist experience; Management; Accessible tourism

Poria, Y., Reichel, A., & Brandt, Y. (2011). Blind People’s Tourism Experiences: An Exploratory Study. In D. Olis & S. Darcy (Eds.), Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues (pp. 149-159). Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.
Richards, V., Pritchard, A., & Morgan, N. (2010). (Re)Envisioning tourism and visual impairment. Annals of Tourism Research, 37(4), 1097-1116. doi: DOI: 10.1016/j.annals.2010.04.011
Small, J., & Darcy, S. (2011). Understanding Tourist Experience Through Embodiment: The Contribution of Critical Tourism and Disability Studies. In D. Buhalis & S. Darcy (Eds.), Accessible Tourism: Concepts and Issues (pp. 72-96). Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.


  1. I hope this research will be able to help tour operators and hotel owners to improve their procedures and equipment to accommodate people with disabilities.

    pattaya villas for rent

  2. hopefully some of those villas for rent are accessible to people with disabilities?


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