Stakeholder Perspectives of a Future of Accessible Tourism in New Zealand
Gillovic, B; McIntosh, A
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to put forward the argument that New Zealand’s tourism industry generally fails to acknowledge the importance of the access market. Despite anecdotal evidence of the market’s value and strong legislation, New Zealand’s access market arguably remains underserviced and misunderstood. The current research sought to explore social and business rationales to support a future for accessible tourism in New Zealand, from the perspectives of its key stakeholders. It sought to uncover contemporary issues in the tourism industry, to examine the capacity and context for which issues can be addressed and overcome, to achieve a future for accessible tourism in New Zealand. Design/methodology/approach Under the interpretive paradigm, original, exploratory research was conducted. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with ten key New Zealand tourism industry stakeholders who agreed to participate in the research. Qualitative data were thematically analysed. The following five key themes inductively emerged from the data: “Accessibility as a human right: Developing a culture of accessibility”; “Accessible tourism: Good for business?”; “Bottom-up, market-led approach”; “Leadership from the top: Moving from apathy to action”; and “Meeting somewhere in the middle”. The five themes correspond to themes evidenced in the wider literature and present propositions for the future development of accessible tourism in New Zealand. Findings Findings revealed stakeholder opinions of an industry exemplifying minimal awareness and consideration for accessibility. Accessibility was perceived to be an issue of social change, requiring the achievement of a cultural shift where accessibility is envisioned as a cultural norm necessary for the future. Whilst top-down leadership and support were deemed pertinent, ownership and accountability were seen to be crucial at the lower, operational levels of the industry. A “meeting in the middle” was reported necessary to see the leveraging of a greater push towards accessibility and emphasising more prominently, what has been and can be done, moving forward into the future. Originality/value This paper provides original insights into the current and future scope of accessible tourism in New Zealand from the perspectives of its stakeholders. The key themes derived from the research assist knowledge for aligning the industry on a pathway towards achieving the necessary awareness and collaboration required in order to offer accessible tourism experiences to all.