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

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A new article on perceptions of people with disability working in the tourism and hospitality sector

While the blog has examined the importance of customer service attitude for accessible tourism (click here to see previous post), what has not been examined is people with disability as employees in the tourism and hospitality sector. Foundation work by Goffman (1963) on stigma, institutions and disability examines the marginalising nature of social attitudes. Whether it is fear or aversion there is no doubt that people with disability are placed in marginalised positions because of the social attitudes people have to "the other" (Darcy & Buhalis, 2011; Wearing & Darcy, 2011). The literature has shown that the tourism and hospitality sector values the aesthetic of the image of its employees sometimes as much as performance whereby certain people get to work "front of office" while others will never get promoted from “back of office" duties (G. F. Ross, 2004). While Photo 1 shows an exception to the rule where Hotel Panda in Budapest is run by staff with disabilities, too often people with disabilities may not even make an interview due to discriminatory selection practices (Darcy, Green, & Taylor, 2011). Other research has also shown that those in management in tourism have become very good at "camouflaging" their attitudes to appear "politically correct" while still acting in a discriminating manner (G. A. Ross, 1994). A number of articles have focused on the importance of disability awareness training as a way of improving attitudes to disability (Bizjak, Knezevic, & Cvetreznik, 2011; Daruwalla & Darcy, 2005; Navarro García-Caro, de Waal, & Buhalis, 2012) as well as ethical frameworks for understanding discriminatory attitudes towards people with disabilities as employees (G. F. Ross, 2004). Yet, little work has actually been undertaken on people with disability who are employees in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Photo 1: Hotel in Budapest run by staff with disabilities (source:

A new article by Gröschl (2012) undertakes a study of employees with disability in the German Embrace hotel association by interviewing managers, employees and guests with and without disabilities together with observations. The study refutes a lot of the stereotypes that suggests that people with disabilities don't have the capabilities to meet industry specific work requirements and that they are too costly to employ. The study found that "employees with disabilities are loyal, are reliable, and on balance, require moderate accommodations" to the workplace. The study concludes by suggesting that a change in organisational culture from one of exclusivity and intolerance may provide opportunities for employees with disabilities to be integrated within the workplace in an effective and efficient manner. Given that the hospitality industry worldwide suffers from high turnover, high casualisation and labour shortage, there may be lessons to be learnt and collaborations to be made with the disability advocacy sector to create a win-win environment for both people with disability and the tourism and hospitality sector. Gröschl (Gröschl, 2005, 2007) has also made to other contributions to the study of disability within employment in the tourism and hospitality sector.

A link to the abstract and the article is provided below
Gröschl, S. (2012). Presumed Incapable: Exploring the Validity of Negative Judgments about Persons with Disabilities and Their Employability in Hotel Operations. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. doi: 10.1177/1938965512453082


Research has shown that managers in the hotel industry perceive persons with disabilities as people who lack the required innate capacities and attributes, are unable to meet industry-specific work requirements, and are too costly to employ. A case study of hotels within the German Embrace hotel association finds little support for those negative judgments. Based on interviews with forty-nine managers, employees, and guests with and without disabilities as well as nine days of observations, the study found that employees with disabilities are loyal, are reliable, and, on balance, require moderate accommodations. On average, more than 60 percent of Embrace hotel employees are persons with disabilities. Embrace’s employment concept is based on the integrative model, which aims to create employment opportunities for persons with disabilities who do not find employment in the regular labor market. Many disabilities had no effect on the mobility or shift work of employees. The processes of accommodating and training persons with disabilities were frequently associated with minimal costs, and expenses incurred for some accommodations were offset by German government grants. Moreover, the physical attributes of persons with disabilities did not negatively influence the experiences of guests. The findings indicate that developing an organizational climate of openness and tolerance, placing employees with disabilities at the center of managerial planning and operational processes, and investing in good human resources management practices are essential elements for the integration of persons with disabilities in the workplace.



  1. Dear ladies and Gentlemen,

    Travel Agency Around the World LtD participates as an initiator in the state program of social adaptation of disabled people to attract them to work as managers in tourism. We are looking for organizations that have experience in implementing support programs in this area. If you interested to cooperate, plz contact us.

    Best wishes,
    Zhanara Magauina

    RK, Astana, 16 Baraev str, 010000, off.101
    +7 7172 555 707, +7 7172 555 709
    +7 775 882 82 35,

  2. please send me details of your operations

  3. Welcome back to the Vegas gang!! The group had a blast in the USA and came back laden with all sorts of goodies and brilliant memories - watch this space for some amazing photos!

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