Italian Study: Accessible Tourism

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Below is a reproduction (without graphics) of the May 1999 Italian study on accessible tourism.


The data which this work is based on are taken from the survey carried out in the period between 31 May – 2 July 1999, by the Iter company commissioned by ENEA, as part of the STARe “Study of the Demand for Accessible hTourism”. This enquiry is part of the project “Italia per Tutti” promoted by the Ministry for the Industry (Department General for Tourism) and realised by ENEA as a tool for the promotion of holidays for “tourists with special needs”. The complete results of the survey can be found in the ENEA site at the following Internet address www.italiapertutti.it/i mprenditoria.htm .

Main results of the Iter survey on accessible tourism

* What is accessible tourism?
* Contents of the Survey
* Who are the tourists with special needs
* What are the needs and problems when travelling?
* Travelling after 65 years of age
* Travelling subject to what conditions: "potential tourist demand"

What is accessible tourism?

Accessible tourism is intended as the set of services and facilities capable of allowing persons with specific needs to enjoy a holiday and their leisure time with no particular barriers or problems. Individuals with specific needs could be elderly people, disabled individuals and people with particular diets or with allergy problems, who need particular comforts and facilitations during their travels. The definition of tourist covers a large category of people and takes into consideration all those individuals who declare they have taken at least one trip during the last year.
Information and data on this argument are quite rare and often missing in the main statistical sources on tourism, which mainly deal with qualitative assessments or, at most, with estimates relating to the actual size of the phenomenon.
The enquiry has been conducted on a sample of Italian households consisting in 9,041 units, not including all those individuals living in charitable organisations. The CATI (Computer Assisted Telephonic Interview) technique was adopted for the interviews, which were carried out by telephone.
The study represents a first attempt to fill in the current information gaps and, simultaneously, to build a methodological prototype capable of allowing surveys and analyses to be carried out on the real and potential demand for accessible tourism, even in other contexts.
In addition, there are several suggestions and requests coming from operators in this field, that contribute to increasing the importance of disseminating the statistical data on accessible tourism and that increase the motivation for the creation of homogeneous, comparable and continual data sources related to the subject. (up)

Contents of the survey

The data which this work is based on are taken from the survey carried out in the period between 31 May – 2 July 1999, by the Iter company commissioned by ENEA, as part of the STARe “Study of the Demand for Accessible Tourism”. This enquiry is part of the project “Italia per Tutti” promoted by the Ministry for the Industry (Department General for Tourism) and realised by ENEA as a tool for the promotion of holidays for “tourists with special needs”. The complete results of the survey can be found in the ENEA site at the following Internet address www.italiapertutti.it/i mprenditoria.htm .
The aims of the study are: to quantify the number of people with special needs in the Italian population and the percentage among them of those who contribute to the tourist demand; to gain a description of the various typologies of special requirements and of the relative problems encountered by the population that expresses a tourist demand; to define the conditions necessary for a potential demand of accessible tourism to emerge.

Following is a description of the demographic and social features of the tourists with special needs. It is worthwhile noting that tourists with special needs should not all be identified as disabled, since this category involves a larger amount of people than those with disabilities and, vice-versa, not all disabled. (up)
Who are the tourists with special needs?

In 1999 about 31 million people took at least one trip a year, amounting to 54.6% of all the Italian population. Among these, 2.9%, corresponding to 889,330 individuals, were people who expressed special needs. If one wishes to extend the analysis to tourists who, whilst not expressing any special needs, nevertheless belong to the higher age class (65 and over), for which it is assumed that in the majority of cases one chooses to make journeys with particular characteristics, then the analysis extends to another 2,140,785 tourists, corresponding to 6.9% of the tourists who do not express special needs.

There is also a considerable number of Italians who do not travel: in 1999 they amounted to 26 million people, equal to 45.4% of Italians. One may ask why it is that these people do not travel, if it is due to temporary or permanent causes and, under what conditions they would be willing to travel. We are interested in focusing on those who do not travel for health reasons or for old age (14.1% of the individuals who do not travel) and, in particular, on those among these who, notwithstanding the permanent character of their impairments, have declared that they are willing to travel if the causes hindering their desire to travel were removed (1.9% of those who do not travel).

Table 1 – Those who travel and those who do not travel in Italy (1999)

(Graphic at: http://www.disabilitaincifre.it/descrizioni/e_turismoaccessibile.asp)
Those who travel: Those who do not travel:
31,165,062 (54.6%) 25,910,265 (45.4%)
of whom with special needs: : of whom:
889,330 (2.9%) for health problems/old age 3,651,003 (14,1%) (would travel 1.9%)
taking care of disabled/child 1,215,868 (4.7%) (would travel 0.1%)

As tourists with special needs, women travel more than men, contrarily to what happens in the whole universe of tourists. In fact, among the people with special needs, women belonging to the older age classes tend to prevail and, from what emerges through the data, they do not give up travelling.

Graph 1 – Percentage distribution per gender of all tourists and of those with special needs (1999)

At what age does one travel most? The amount of tourists aged over 65 years, with special needs (22.8%) is three times more than those belonging to the same age group in the overall number of tourists (7.5%), while the amount of youngsters up to the age of 14 years who travel, both among those who express special needs and in the overall amount of tourists, is more or less the same (18.7% and 17.2% respectively). This typical distribution per age of the tourists with special needs is strongly influenced by the age structure of all the people who have special needs, namely featuring the elderly as being the group with most members.
The following table summarises the distribution per age group of tourists with special needs and that of the overall universe of tourists.

Table 2 – Percentage distribution per age of tourists and total number of tourists (1999)
Tbale at: http://www.disabilitaincifre.it/descrizioni/e_turismoaccessibile.asp)

Age group Tourists with special needs Tourists overall
Up to 14 years 18.7 17.2
15-24 12.1 18.1
25-44 22.6 36.7
45-64 23.8 20.4
Over 64 years 22.8 7.5
Total 100.0 100.0

Another characteristic that emerges, which is interesting to study, is the type of working activity carried out by tourists with special needs. A good 33.6% of them work as employees or teachers, while with respect to the overall number of tourists, the percentage is 28.1%. Only 5.9% are entrepreneurs, freelance professionals or managers, whereas in the overall number of tourists the percentage is double.
49% of the tourists with special needs resides in Northern Italy while in the overall number of tourists the percentage is 44.2%, 35.2% reside in the South compared to 30,8% in the overall number of tourists, 15.8% reside in Central Italy compared to 25% in the overall number.
Travellers with special needs seem more inclined to take trips within Italy rather than go abroad.

At this point one can outline the profile of the socio-demographic characteristics of the tourist with special needs, who is prevailingly a woman of medium-old age, working as an employee. One must nevertheless consider the fact that this profile is highly influenced by the socio-demographic features of the individuals with special needs in general, independently from the fact that they travel or not. (up)

What are the needs and problems when travelling?

One of the first comforting results of the research is the consideration that “not always the emergence of a need encounters a barrier”, that is to say that in most cases tourists with special needs turn to the facilities and services capable of providing for them in the best possible manner, according to their needs. Given that 84% of tourists with special needs express only one requirement, 10% express at least two and, a little more than 5% of them, at least three, a detailed analysis of the needs declared by tourists with special needs gives the following classification of expressed needs [1] :

*

the most recurrent needs are dietetic needs, which involved 379,688 tourists, 43% of tourists with special needs;
*

the need for ana/hypoallergic environments involved 332,396 tourists, 37% of tourists with special needs;
*

the need for visits and medical care regarded 258,622 tourists, 29% of tourists with special needs;
*

the number of tourists with special needs who expressed ambulating needs was 74,206, 8% of the tourists with special needs;
*

particular needs related to sensory impairments were expressed by 29,641 tourists, 3% of tourists with special needs;

Table 3 – Type of need for tourists with special needs (1999)
Type of need Yes No Total
Need for a special diet 379,688 509,642 889,330
Need for ana/hypoallergic environments 332,396 556,934 889,330
Need for visits and medical care 258,622 630,708 889,330
Ambulating needs 74,206 815,124 889,330
Needs related to sensory impairments 29,641 859,689 889,330

What emerges from the enquiry is that those who declare they have special needs have not necessarily encountered any barriers or problems. In fact, among those who have special diet needs, the most frequent among needs, only 19% complain that they had problems in being provided with “dietetic meals”, or among those who expressed the need for anallergic or hypoallergic environments, only 16% found it difficult to find “aseptic accommodation”. As a whole the most relevant problems that emerge are:

*

the availability of health facilities and personnel declared by 97 thousand tourists with special needs;
*

the accessibility to means of transport expressed by 54 thousand tourists with special needs;
*

the accessibility to services for 44 thousand tourists with special needs.

The comparison between persons who declare they have “special needs” and those who complain having had “problems and barriers while travelling” leads one to retain that the tourists who have had the biggest problems in travelling are mostly the tourists with disabilities. These are in fact the persons that mostly need health facilities and personnel, means of transport and accessible services. (up)

Travelling after 65 years of age

The ENEA-Iter survey is also a source of data regarding elderly tourists, who do not enter the category of those tourists who have declared they have special needs, yet, nevertheless, present peculiar features, which seem to call for a moment of reflection.

With reference to the year 1999, we are speaking of a set of 2 million and 140 thousand travellers, who are over 64 years of age and cover 6.9% of total number of travellers.

The information gathered helps build a profile of the tourist “over 64” according to certain social and economic characteristics. It is a category of tourists in which neither of the genders, male or female, prevail, in which the most frequent profession is that of the housewife, living mainly in Northern Italy. (up)
Travelling subject to what conditions: "the potential tourist demand"

Let us now speak of those who do not travel, but who would do so under specific conditions. We are speaking of 490 thousand individuals, 1.9% of the more than 25 million Italians who declared that they do not travel, in 1999. First of all it would be best to try to understand the reasons which determine a non propensity to travel. In fact the data show that 61.1% (298.709 people) declare they have “a serious health problem”, while the remaining 38.9% (189.890 people) do not travel due to a generic “impairment to moving/travelling”.
Even in this case it is possible to design a profile of the potential tourist:

* prevailingly a woman, who in 72% of the cases is over 64 years of age and for 29% is a housewife.

The survey has given a deeper insight of the phenomenon of the non-expressed demand for tourism, trying to decipher under what conditions the “potential tourists” would travel. Over 61% of potential tourists place as a minimum requisite in order to travel the “need to be accompanied”, 25% would ask for the “availability of medical assistance”, 7% would require “barrier-free architecture” in the facilities and services. This group of individuals expresses the highest number of needs necessary to make travelling possible and most probably represents that of disabled people.

Graph 2 – Specific conditions under which the “potential tourist” would travel (1999)

(Graph at: http://www.disabilitaincifre.it/descrizioni/e_turismoaccessibile.asp)

1. Being accompanied 61%
2. Medical assistance 25%
3. Elimination of architectural barriers 7%
4. Organised trips 4%
5. Special meals 3%

1. Every tourist was allowed to express more than one specific need.



Further Reading:

http://www.disabilitaincifre.it/

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