Hotels slow to provide accessibility

Not surprisingly, relatively wealthy countries have the best adapted hotels for accessibility. The US, Canada, Ireland, Qatar, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand come out top of each region’s list. That’s according to a study of Booking.com’s website of hotels. Despite government and community organisations promoting the need and benefits of inclusive tourism, hotels are slow to provide accessibility.

A study using the international Booking.com data compares continents and countries for the level of hotel accessibility. The researchers worked with a sample of 31,868 hotels in the 100 most popular tourist destinations. They found some type of adaptation in 18,368. Even in the countries with the highest levels, wheelchair accessibility is only provided in 30%. Other features are just 5% or less.

Booking.com is a popular website for booking tourist accommodation. It leads the market by having the greatest distribution of beds worldwide. In the filter search there is a section on accessibility features. However, the information is not always reliable because standards vary across international borders. Although an hotel states it is adapted or accessible there is no guarantees it is.

This is why disability groups and individuals have set up their guides to accessible and inclusive tourism. They use the personal experiences of travellers to provide the access details that matter most. Examples are Travel Without Limits, Getaboutable, Access Advisor, and TravAbility. 

The title of the article is, Accessibility in Inclusive Tourism? Hotels Distributed Through Online Channels.  The authors conclude that the “vast majority of the world’s hotel industry has serious deficiencies in accessibility”. 

The accessible features included in the Booking.com filter search are: wheelchair accessible, toilet with grab rails, higher level toilet, lower bathroom sink, emergency cord in bathroom, Braille, tactile signs, auditory guidance.  The hotels themselves provide the information on Booking.com. So, the information is not always reliable. 

Abstract

There is a lack of comprehensive international studies on accommodations for people with disabilities; only small, local-level studies exist. This study aims to show the status of the tourist accommodation sector through the online distribution channel in terms of accessibility to offer more inclusive tourism. A descriptive analysis has been carried out with more than 31,000 hotels from the online travel agency Booking.com, in the 100 most touristic cities in the world. For the first time, an accurate picture of adaptation in the hotel sector for people with disabilities is presented. Results show that the adapted hotel infrastructures by countries are uneven. The main adaptations are those that help to avoid mobility barriers, and in contrast, hotels offer very few adaptations for sensory disabilities such as visual disabilities. Moreover, this study shows that, worldwide, countries with the highest income per capita, such as the United States of America, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, have the highest degree of hotel adaptation.