The need for disabled friendly accommodation in South Africa
Breedt, Tielman Francois
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The paper reports on a Consumer Service Index (CSI) model that was developed for the accommodation industry in South Africa to assist the disabled and elderly traveller when using accommodation facilities in South Africa. The CSI model was adapted from current models used to form the Disability Index (Dl) by using the results obtained through a structured questionnaire sent to hotels in South Africa. The Dl forms part of the marketing tools of hotels in South Africa for improved communication and information to physical disabled and elderly travellers when selecting accommodation. Qualitative research was done in this research study and focused on key areas within the hotels that provide problems to disabled and elderly travellers. Key areas in the hotel with problems were the reception, bathroom, bar area and swimming pool. The problems with the areas were identified using the Dl and recommendations were made to improve the accessibility to these areas for travellers. The response of the questionnaire was sufficient to develop the Dl and to make recommendations for change to the guidelines used by the Tourism Grading Council to establish the disabled friendly status. While the statistics for disabled travellers are not clear in South Africa and most of Africa, the US and EU tourism authority claimed that the disabled traveller market is an untapped market for all countries. First world countries (USA and EU) have introduced regulations and laws to improve the accessibility to tourism sites and transportation for disabled and elderly travellers. This regulations and laws form part of the first step to obtaining this untapped tourism market of disabled and elderly travellers for every country in the tourism service and product industry. The introduction of the Dl into the evaluation of hotels would support the regulations and laws of accessibility.