Accessible Tourism and Digital Platforms: A Study Applied to the City of Viana do Castelo

Accessible Tourism and Digital Platforms: A Study Applied to the City of Viana do Castelo

Catarina Meira (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal), Isabel Silva Martins (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal) and Bruno Barbosa Sousa (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5691-7.ch014
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The disclosure of accessibility conditions in tourism supply encourages the demand for destinations. The fact that a destination seeks solutions in order to satisfy the needs and preferences of tourists, regardless of the nature and degree of their disability, fosters a spirit of social and corporate responsibility, contributing to a differentiated, competitive, and, at the same time, sustainable destination. Therefore, the present study aims to present the accessible resources in the city of Viana do Castelo, based on the Tur4ll platform. The objective is to analyse the tourism offer available and suitable for tourists with special needs (SN). By using a qualitative methodology, a diagnosis of the study context is presented, as well as the main constraints and limitations that are sometimes inherent to tourism with specific motivation.
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Tourism is assumed as one of the major engines with a more significant impact on the global development and growth of many economies. Year after year, there has been an increase in competition in this sector, although this competition is established between tourism destinations (Ferreira & Sousa, 2020). To promote a tourist destination in the face of new tourist offers and new market segments is, nowadays, fundamental, at a time when tourism is a segmented activity with specific individual interests and that value experience (Ferreira & Sousa, 2020; Sousa & Silva, 2019). It is becoming more and more emergent to adapt territories to people with SN. For this to happen, it is imperative an awareness on the part of the agents of tourism supply (Alves et al., 2020). Soares and Breda (2014) state that the tourism sector, as a necessary element in a system of economic, social and cultural relations, must be prepared for people with needs at different levels, having as acquired the right to participate in the tourist activity in any community. The notion of accessible tourism is presented by Darcy, Cameronb and Pegg (2010) as a form of tourism that allows people with access needs, including mobility, sight, hearing and cognitive limitations, to practice tourism independently with equity and dignity through the provision of universally designed tourism products, services and environments (Malek & Costa, 2015; Brandão, Costa & Buhalis, 2018).

Increasingly, tourism is asserting itself as a multifaceted and geographically complex activity, in a logic of segmentation and market niches (Sousa & Rodrigues, 2019). The group of people with SN is quite diverse, even though today the almost indistinct use of the terminology “people with special needs” and “people with disabilities” is still common. In fact, the term “people with special needs” refers both to people with disabilities and not (Tomé, 2014). Regarding the breadth of this segment, Devile (2007) states that the group of people with SN is quite diverse and includes not only people with some kind of disability, but also elderly people, parents who carry prams, children, obese people, people who carry heavy luggage, as well as people with particular health problems, among others. However, a new paradigm may be emerging regarding people with SN in the field of accessible tourism. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The ASD is a neurological condition, often associated with other pathologies, and consequently compromising the individual’s autonomy and functionality. The decision to choose this research arises with the interest of contributing with a project that allows presenting the city of Viana do Castelo and its resources accessible to people with SN, making this same information available in a digital platform “TUR4all”, which aims to support and inform the tourist in the planning and organisation of a trip.

Thus, and in view of the above, the study intends to present inputs in the area of tourism (special needs) and in the area of marketing and consumer behaviour. In the next sections of the document, the main constraints and behaviours associated with the tourist with SN will be addressed, as well as the planning and management directed towards the sustainability of the accessible destination. In specific, TUR4all is the App for Accessible Tourism in the Iberian Peninsula. It provides information about accessible accommodation, restaurants, bars, monuments, museums, cultural centres, wine tourism, beaches, leisure activities, tourism offices, city tours in short, accessible destinations and experiences. The application enables people with special needs to plan their trips, with access to objective and accurate information about the level of accessibility of tourism resources (Alves, Sousa & Machado, 2020). TUR4all has been designed so that users can customise their search criteria according to their specific needs. This chapter focuses on accessible tourism and tourism for all. A case study will be presented and discussed. The authors also consider some implications for management, as well as give suggestions for future lines of research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Marketing: Is the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.

E-Satisfaction: The contentment of a consumer with respect to his or her prior purchasing experiences with a given retail-oriented website.

Social media: Is the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing, and collaboration (e.g., websites and applications, forums, microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis are among the different types of social media).

Social Tourism: Is tourism that provides economic opportunities via travel and tourism for persons who are economically weak or otherwise disadvantaged.

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