USC study finds gaps in inclusive tourism - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

USC study finds gaps in inclusive tourism

20 Jun 2017

USC research into accessible tourism has found that businesses could be missing out by not catering for the emerging market of travellers with disabilities.

USC Associate Professor of Regional and Urban Planning Dr Claudia Baldwin said inclusive tourism in Queensland was an under-researched area, despite approximately 15 percent of the world’s population and one in five Queenslanders having a disability.

“People with disabilities want to travel and have interesting experiences,” Dr Baldwin said.

“This study identified strategies to assist tourism areas to become more universally accessible destinations for both tourists and locals alike.”

Her research, which focused on the Sunshine Coast, builds on a 2012 study of 32 operators from five other Queensland tourism regions; Hervey Bay, Cairns, Port Douglas, the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

“While there is a good business reason for cater for tourists with disability, the spill-over effect will open other markets such as seniors and parents with prams, and improve liveability and inclusiveness for all ages and abilities.”

Dr Baldwin said the research was the first to identify gaps in disability access in the Sunshine Coast tourism industry.

“Of the 52 Sunshine Coast businesses surveyed, only four percent of accommodation providers had completely accessible rooms, one in three had access rails to their pools and only a few planned to upgrade to improve services for disabled visitors,” Dr Baldwin said.

More than 90 percent of restaurants and cafés had level surfaces and clear paths of entry, however only 40 percent had accessible toilets and designated parking, and few had modified assistance such as large print menus.

Forty percent of accommodation providers and 20 percent of food establishments were aware of the need for disability access, while four percent provided disability training for staff.

Dr Baldwin briefed Sunshine Coast operators on the findings at a recent Inclusive Tourism and Community Planning Forum at USC’s Innovation Centre auditorium attended by Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks.

“At the forum, we identified quick wins that don’t cost a lot. Sometimes the smallest changes in how we design, build and offer our facilities can make monumental differences in the way of life for a person with disability.”

Strategies included improving accessibility information on websites, better signage, and assistance from governments and the tourism industry to encourage businesses to upgrade venues and staff training programs.

 Clare McKay 

Related articles

Urban design experts urge development industry to stay abreast of recent research
13 May

Rapid development on the Sunshine Coast may be necessary, but developers need to consider the latest research to create the best – and most playful - communities, researchers say.

USC opens high-tech lab to improve urban areas
12 Jan

A new laboratory at the University of the Sunshine Coast is packed with equipment that will help town planners design urban environments that are more comfortable to live in.


Name Position Email Phone
Janelle Kirkland Media Manager (Acting) +61 7 5459 4553
Clare McKay Media Relations Coordinator +61 7 5456 5669

Search results for Recent news