Accessible tourism futures: the world we dream to live in and the opportunities we hope to have
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Authors: Michopoulou, E., Darcy, S., Ambrose, I. and Buhalis, D.
Journal: Journal of Tourism Futures
PurposeAccessible tourism is evolving as a field of academic research and industry practice, set within a dynamic social context. The field is interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary. The purpose of this paper is to examine key concepts and global initiatives that will shape accessible tourism futures. Design/methodology/approachThree of the authors have extensive academic experience in the area and the fourth author is the Managing Director of the pre-eminent European Network for Accessible Tourism. In taking a limited Delphi approach to canvassing key areas likely to shape accessible tourism futures, the following concepts and policy initiatives were examined: motivations, dreams and aspirations of people with disability; demography; UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; destination competitiveness; universal design (UD); and the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. FindingsA discussion of each of the above areas was placed in context to accessible tourism futures and to contextualise the papers that were selected for the special issue. The latter part of the paper outlines the contribution of each empirical paper to the issue discussing the approach, findings and implications. Stakeholder collaboration was identified as the key common theme of the papers and the factor for developing accessible tourism solutions, recognising the value of the market and capitalising on it. A collaborative approach is required to recognise the complementary nature of the different paradigms; to re-shape and transform the future of the accessible tourism industry. To assist in the development of accessible tourism futures, UD principles should provide a foundation to enhance the future competitiveness of tourism destinations and organisations. Originality/valueThe paper’s examination of the concepts and global policy considerations provides a strong academic and practitioner foundation for considering accessible tourism futures. In doing so, accessible tourism futures are shown to be affected by key concepts related to core tourism considerations and major policy initiatives on accessibility and sustainability. Yet, accessible tourism futures also have the potential to create their own momentum and contribute unique learnings on the diversity of tourism markets that will shape tourism concepts and global policy initiatives in their own right.