Accessible Tourism Experiences in Smart Destinations: The Case of Breda (Netherlands)

Accessible Tourism Experiences in Smart Destinations: The Case of Breda (Netherlands)

Fatih Ercan
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8775-1.ch015
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Accessible tourism is among the issues that have been emphasized in recent years. Smart technologies which have developed and become widespread nowadays are seen as an important tool in ensuring accessibility in destinations. Today, destinations are trying to improve the tourism experiences of individuals with some form of disability by using smart technologies. This study aims to reveal the current accessible tourism applications in smart destinations with the example of the city of Breda. Data were obtained using the document analysis technique, which is one of the qualitative data collection methods. As a result of the data analysis, it has been determined that technologies such as destination websites, mobile applications, virtual reality are used extensively for accessible transportation and information about the destination in Breda.
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Today, destinations that are trying to increase their income from tourism by attracting more tourists follow various strategies for this. One of these strategies is to make their natural, cultural and historical resources accessible for all. Accessibility is an approach to creating product, service and environmental conditions that allow everyone to use and benefit (Gillovic & McIntosh, 2020). In recent years, the increase in the number of people with disabilities and the prediction that this increase will continue in the future (The World Bank, 2021) increase the importance of accessibility. People with disabilities have the right to travel and participate in tourism activities like other people with no disabilities. However, there is a consensus that their travel and tourism experiences are not sufficiently accessible (Yıldız & Bozyer, 2017; Meskele, Woreta & Weldesenbet, 2018; Devile & Kastenholz, 2018). Allan (2015) reveals in his research that environmental factors are an important travel barrier and intrinsic and interactive factors in the travels of people with disabilities.

The unsuitable physical structure, inadequate physical mobility, inconvenience of transportation activities and their need for assistive travel technologies in the destinations appear as important constraints in the travels of people with disabilities. Tourists with disabilities are more loyal, spend more, stay longer in destinations (Vila, Gonzalez, & Darcy, 2019). However, the increasing value of the accessible tourism market (Bowtell, 2015) makes it necessary to enhance the travel experiences of people with disabilities and to carry out studies on accessible tourism in destinations. Technology is shown as one of the most important factors that change the nature of tourist experiences today (Neuhofer, Buhalis, & Ladkin, 2012; Mayordomo-Martinez et al., 2019). Smart technologies within the digital ecosystem contribute to the accessibility of destinations by allowing information sharing and coordination among tourism components (Cassia et al., 2021). The concept of an inclusive smart city, which refers to the use of smart technologies to make cities more accessible to people with disabilities, enables new experiences to be offered to both tourists with disabilities and no disabilities (Neto, 2018). Here, smart city applications in destinations gain importance.

Smart cities offer new experiences based on smart technologies for the tourists visiting the city as well as the life quality of the local people (OECD, 2020). Smart destinations that are built on a smart city infrastructure are defined as cities or places that use the necessary technological tools, innovations and techniques to create experiences that will satisfy tourists. Here, it is aimed to enrich tourist experiences by using smart destination applications developed in integration with smart city technologies (Jasrotia and Gangotia, 2018). The research results conducted by Huang and Lau (2020) reveal that smart destination experiences strengthen the connection of people with disabilities with the destination, increasing their travel motivation and satisfaction from tourism experiences. Smart technologies are used in destinations for providing accessible information for people with disabilities (Altinay et al., 2016), in vehicles, physical environment (UNWTO, 2020), accommodation enterprises (Suryotrisongko, Kusuma, & Ginardi, 2017), among others.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Smart Tourism: It is a type of tourism where smart technologies (IoT, mobile apps, big data, etc.) are used by destinations, tourism enterprises, public and private organisations and tourists in tourism activities and services.

Accessible Tourist Experience: Accessible experiences of tourists with disabilities before, during and post travel.

Accessible Destination: Tourist services offered in a destination are equally accessible for all (disabled and non-disabled).

Smart Tourism Experience: It is the travel experience of tourists by actively using smart technologies during the entire holiday process.

Smart Technology: It is a new generation technology that increases the interaction between human-machine and machine-machine through an Internet connection.

Smart City: It is a city model where smart technologies are used to increase the life quality of local people, improve and manage the services offered to them.

Smart Destination: It is the type of destination where tourist experiences and services are supported and developed with smart technologies such as mobile applications, IoT, artificial intelligence and big data.

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