ASSESSMENT OF THE BENEFIT OF ACCESSIBLE TOURISM TO THE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED IN PLATEAU STATE: A CASE STUDY OF RAYFIELD HOLIDAY RESORT, JOS

ASSESSMENT OF THE BENEFIT OF ACCESSIBLE TOURISM TO THE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED IN PLATEAU STATE: A CASE STUDY OF RAYFIELD HOLIDAY RESORT, JOS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1. Background of the study

Tourism is one of the most discussed and prefer sectors in the world, providing millions of jobs, generating revenue to governments while creating avenues for mutual understanding and harmony between tourists and host communities and nations respectively (UNWTO, 2015).

In 2013, UNWTO further re-iterated that the provision of safe, convenient and economical transport and other tourism-related infrastructure is a key factor for the success of tourism. Infrastructure that does not cater adequately for the needs of people with disabilities, including infants and the elderly, excludes many destinations from this promising market.  However, due to the way our surroundings, transport systems and services are designed, people with disabilities and people experiencing problems regarding mobility or access to information are often unable to enjoy the same freedom to travel as other citizens. The number of accessibility problems is legion, and visitors may be affected in every part of the route, either in terms of access to information, local transport, accommodation, visits and/or participation in cultural or sporting events, whether as spectators or participants.

The UNWTO has been aware of this situation ever since the 1991 General Assembly, when the first recommendations devoted to promoting Accessible Tourism were passed, which were later reviewed in 2005.

With the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD, 2007), there has been an increased focus on the tourism sector’s obligations to ensure that people with disabilities can exercise their right to enjoy leisure, sport and tourism under the same conditions as other people. The States Parties to the Convention must lead the way to guide the public and private sectors to make tourism accessible to all citizens.

As recognized in the UNWTO’s “Declaration on the Facilitation of Tourist Travel”, adopted by its General Assembly Resolution A/RES/578 (XVIII) of 2009, “facilitating tourism travel for persons with disabilities is an essential element of any policy for the development of responsible tourism.” Therefore, mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies of sustainable development will ensure that tourism policies and practices are inclusive of people with disabilities, giving rise to equitable and accessible tourism for all.

Now, the tourism industry players understands that people with disabilities have equal rights to tourism services and opportunities: independent travel, accessible facilities, trained staff, reliable information and inclusive marketing. As the demand for accessible tourism for all is growing, it is now seen as an opportunity rather than an obligation. If the tourism industry wants to maintain and develop quality, sustainability and competitiveness, it must support and develop tourism accessible for all, because accessible tourism benefits everyone. As more individuals enjoy the opportunity to travel, the tourism industry gets more visitors, longer seasons and new incomes. Society as a whole benefits from new job opportunities, more tax revenue and an accessible environment for both inhabitants and visitors.

The industry is characterized with movement of people, huge information and facility requirement. The sector also requires huge investment by both government and private sectors to justify its benefits, especially in the areas of infrastructures, social amenities, communication and inclusive access for all in all tourism and related facilities to ensure the equitable tourism of all and sundry. Accessibility in tourism has gone beyond mobility and transportation but providing access to all tourists facilities to all including the children, elderly  and the people with physical challenges or disabilities.

Advancement in technology, increased in leisure awareness and social responsibility as well as the increased rate of vulnerability especially with people with disabilities, as well as business opportunities that this group of the population created is responsible for the call for the adoption and practice for accessible tourism. The heightened social responsibility encouraged through advances within the context of the concept of disability is an attempt to overcome many of the practical and social obstacles that people with disabilities face (Yau, and Packer 2004 cited in Eichhorn, et al (n.d.)). The social approach to disability ensure that society need to identify all social constraints and formulate strategies to mitigate the resulting negative tourism experiences. Strategies are particularly important for the information search stage, where “the process changes from tourism as an abstract concept to resolving the practical concerns relating to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience” (Yau et al 2004:954). This means that, tourism is no longer seen as an abstract, rather an essential and memorable service(s) and facilities(s) render that provides safety while enjoying experiences at a destination. These experiences cannot be attained without if other components of tourist facilities are absent in an attraction, especially in regards to attraction accessibility.

UNWTO (2016) affirmed that “the promotion of accessible tourism is part of the strategies aimed at fostering awareness-raising among stakeholders from the public and the private sector, as well as other spheres of society.” One of the primary goals of this promotion is to supplement campaigns supporting the adaptation of tourism infrastructure, especially when it involves the physical environment, means of transport and relevant services.

Moreover, such initiatives serve to establish new labor relations among all sectors of society and of the business world, setting new standards for tourism management based on the impact of the best practices in accessible tourism. The services offered by travel agencies with regard to accessibility are an economic opportunity in terms of job creation and offerings of services tailored to their customers, as is the case of other specialized travel agencies (UNWTO, 2016).

Similarly, UNWTO further state that, “forward-thinking regions and destinations are developing tourism policies and practical measures that take into account the diversity of the human condition in terms of age, mobility, sensory and intellectual impairments or health condition.” This quotation shows what is expected of any serious tourists’ destination, especially stakeholders within the industry. With a careful approach combining socially inclusive policies, Universal Design techniques and the use of new technologies and information tools, destination managers and tourism providers are able to cater effectively for visitors who need “good access”.

World Health Statistics (2016) estimates   that, 15%   of   the   global   population,   roughly 1 billion people, live with some form of disability. With populations ageing rapidly, the number of persons experiencing obstacles will only rise. Most of us will develop some form of disability at some stage, and sooner or later we will have specific access requirements to tourism infrastructures, services and products. 

Nigeria as a destination is blessed with enormous tourism attractions scattered across the six geo-political zones, now tourism clusters according to Nigeria’s Tourism Development Plan (Tourism Development Plan, 2006). Despite these abundance of tourists resources and facilities, the philosophy of accessibility has been an issue in most of the zones or cluster, government, host communities, simply due to inherent inability of government and tourism businesses to domesticate the Global Ethical Codes on sustainable and accessible tourism and poor facilities that characterized most of the facilities and centers in Plateau State, in particular Rayfield Holiday Resort, Jos.

Furthermore, Plateau State is not left out in the increasing ageing population and the growing rate of people with disability who are mostly disconnected and constitute huge potential for accessible tourism. As the result, government and private sector within the state provides access road, tourism board (known as corporation), telecommunication stations or companies, security and facilitates tourism development through the development of Rayfield Holiday Resort and other attractions before taking over by private hand.

Rayfield Holiday Resort is at the city of Jos, Plateau State capital. The resort can be reached by road and telecommunication networks (GLO, MTN, ETISALAT and AIRTEL), which provides facilities for recreation for the general public. Some of the activities carried out in the resort are weddings, birthdays, picnicking, cruising, entertainment and events, fishing, and solitaire among others. Different tourist visit the resort for different purposes. However, majority of the tourist are holiday makers, excursionist (educational), recreationist, fun-seekers and religious tourist who find the serenity of the place as pleasant for prayers and solitaire. The uniqueness and touristic values and opportunities at Rayfield Holiday Resort as well as events and entertainment is a potential attraction for inclusive tourism. Therefore, the quest in developing inclusive tourism is a clarion call for all tourism stakeholders in Plateau State. These and more motivated the researcher to embark on this research work. 

1.2. Statement of problem

There is an increasing awareness on the benefit of tourism participation to all stakeholders, ranging from the tourists’, government, businesses and host communities, which led to the increased influx of tourist across the world, contributing in many countries economy while promoting mental and physical health as well as social wellbeing to nations or regions that open their portals tourism development. On the other hand, Plateau State or Nigeria at large is blessed with many tourists’ attractions which attracts different category of tourist across the globe, which Rayfield Holiday Resort is one of them.

These tourists’ travel for different purposes and on different modes and means of transportation. To some, travel in these modes and means of transport and the facilities they use at the destination does not posed a challenge to them. However, with the growing awareness and increasing numbers of the participation of people with disability in tourism, as well as its attendant benefits, there is need for wholistic approach to tourists’ facilities and services in order to cater for the physically challenged.

Rafield Holiday Resort provides opportunity to every tourist to take a cruise or other recreational activity, which tourists’ that are physically challenged can also benefit from. People with disability find it difficult to enjoy similar services even when they have same rights and freedom to participate and benefit from leisure and tourism activities. People with disabilities have the same motivations to travel as the rest of the population but barriers according to Smith (1987) form a ‘…network of interrelated forces that limit an individual’s opportunities to experience leisure’. Likewise, at the destination, moving around may constitute a challenge for any person, but for persons with disabilities or specific access requirements it may be an insurmountable obstacle if the infrastructure and the movable elements such as wheel chairs, crouches, guiding stick, eye-glasses, tourists’ service/care coordinator, etc. are not provided.

Attractions/facilities management in Plateau State, in particular Rayfield Holiday Resort, Jos is faced with numerous challenges. Though, the resources (such as land and water body-lake) are there, issues related to accessibility in tourism have always posed serious challenges to tourists (both actual and potential). This is coupled with the fact that government officials, the host community, and even the resort management and developers misconceive the concept of accessibility (to be only mobile access to attraction).

1.3. Aim and Objectives of the study

The objectives of the research are to:

1.     Determine the level of domestication and legislation on accessible tourism in Rayfield Holiday Resort, Jos.

2.     Ascertain the benefits of accessibility to disabled tourists’ in Jos, Plateau State.

3.     Evaluate the level of awareness of accessibility in all stakeholders in the industry.

4.     Encourage the participation of the physically challenged in tourism and recreational activities.

5.     Ascertain the availability of facilities/services for the physically challenged in Rayfield Holiday Resort, Jos.

1.4. Research Questions

In order to achieve the objectives of this research, the project is guided by the following questions:

i.                   What are the legislative framework in Plateau State that support accessibility in tourism?

ii.                 What is the extent of the benefit(s) of accessible tourism to the physically challenged in Rayfield Holiday Resort, Jos, Plateau State?

iii.              Is there good understanding of the philosophy behind accessibility/inclusive tourism by the management of Rayfield Holiday Resort?

iv.              What is the level of participation of the people with disability in tourism in Rayfield Holiday Resort?

v.                 Are there facilities/services specially meant for the physically challenged tourists’?

1.5. Significance of the study

The research work and the finding thereof will be of benefits to tourism and hospitality stakeholders like the government, tourism and hospitality policy makers, students of tourism and hospitality and other related disciplines, staff of tourism establishments (Tourism Corporation, boards and Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Hospitality), People with Disabilities as well as centres for disabilities in the state and the country at large.

The government at all levels is an important and indispensable stakeholder in the administration of tourism and in the country. As such, proper information and awareness on the derivable benefits of tourism development and the dire need for political will in the sector cannot be overemphasize. Tourism development is capital intensive and policy driven that requires all hands on deck.

The federal and states ministries of tourism, state tourism corporations or boards are public sector that needs to fulfill its mandate, however, this cannot be achieve without understanding in clear terms the role of accessibility to the development of tourism.

Tourism and hospitality development requires clear-cut policies that is community and participatory driven. Therefore, adequate legislation on tourism policies is of utmost importance. Vital information and materials on the role played by accessible tourism and how the vulnerable group can actively participate in tourism can help policy makers to legislate meaningful policies, especially one that can enable the community felt the impact of the industry.

Students and lecturers of tourism, hospitality and other related disciplines will benefit a lot from this study. It will provide information that will help in meeting needs of academic curriculum requirement and course objectives. That is, the lecturers will find pool of materials that can assist in enhancing student knowledge base, and the students in the other hand, will have asses to reading, assignments, presentations, and project materials. 

People with Disabilities as well as organizations handling disability matters can benefit immensely from this research work. They will have pool of information regarding their rights to accessible tourism and the benefit of it.

6. Scope of the study

The researcher study an Assessment of the Benefit of Accessible Tourism to the Physically Challenged in Plateau State: A Case Study of Rayfield Holiday Resort, Jos, with major emphasis to Plateau State disability association, Jos-South and staff of Rayfield Holiday Resort and physically challenged tourists’ in the resort within the period of study. These organizations were choosing because of its responsibility for the identification and investment in tourism business and coordination of People with Disabilities within the host community.

1.7. Limitation of the study

At the course of the study, the researcher encountered challenges such as low level of literacy of the physically challenged, difficulty to traced the officials/members of the disability association in the locality, lack of differentiating statistics of disabled in Rayfield resort, and secrecy.

Many of the physically challenged respondents the researcher was able to contact have either no or low education, which makes it difficult for the researcher to use questionnaire, and necessitated the used of interview which is hectic and time consuming. This limit the researcher to used limited number of disabled respondents.

Another difficulty encountered at course of the study is inability to contact most the disabled respondents, because they were not living in same place. They only gather when the need be.

The dearth of tourism statistics has been a challenge to many tourism researchers. It is one of the factors militating this research as well. At the course of this study, the researcher find out that, the case study was unable to separate their tourists’ statistics base on abilities or deformities. The information were joint together which makes it difficult for the researcher to get clear secondary information of physically challenged tourists’ to the resort.  

Despite the freedom of information right that is domesticated in Plateau State, the researcher find out that the management of Rayfield Holiday Resort finds it difficult to release the details of tourists’ patronage to the resort. This also hindered the researcher from accessing relevant information on the participation of the physically challenged in the resort.

1.8. Definition of terms and abbreviation

Tourism destination: Tourism destination is a physical space in which the visitor spend at least one night and is made up of tourism products such as support services and attractions, and tourism resources with physical and administrative boundaries that defines its management, images/perceptions of market competitiveness (world tourism organization, 2003).

Tourism: is defined as the entire activities of person(s) travelling to and staying in a place(s) outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited (UNWTO, 2010).

Tourist: a tourist is someone who satisfies the conditions of travelling at least fifty miles from home for any period of less than a year and that while they are away, they spend money in the place they visit without earning it there (Morley, 1990).

Reference

Yau et al (2004). Travelling with a Disability – More than an Access Issue.

Annals of Tourism Research. (ed) Eichhorn, et al (n.d.). Enabling Disabled Tourists? Accessibility Tourism Information Schemes.


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