Tech reviews

Enabling Inclusive Tourism – OpEd – Eurasia Review

The market segment devoted to catering to the needs of individuals with disabilities constitutes a substantial and burgeoning component of the global tourism landscape, with AI and digital tools playing an increasingly pivotal role in facilitating accessibility and inclusivity.

According to projections from the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 650 million individuals, constituting 10 percent of the global populace, grapple with disabilities. This classification encompasses not only physical mobility challenges but also a spectrum of imperceptible conditions, such as mental health disorders, auditory and visual impairments, cognitive disparities, neurodiversity (including autism), sensory and emotional disabilities, as well as cognitive and neurological disorders.

Recognizing disabled travellers as a significant yet overlooked demographic within the global tourism realm could yield profound implications for Malaysia’s tourism sector. As tourist destinations worldwide increasingly adapt their operational frameworks to accommodate the diverse requirements of disabled visitors, Malaysia stands poised to reap rewards by embracing an inclusive and accessible approach to its tourism offerings.

Individuals with disabilities spend USD 58.2 billion on travel annually, showing a rich business sector, especially in the US. Despite their enormous contribution, many impediments prevent their seamless tourism integration. These issues include poor accommodations, limited transportation, and airport and airline staff disability ignorance. The long distances between terminals and gates make disabled travellers’ access harder. Disabled-accessible rooms could boost Malaysia’s tourism industry. By prioritizing accessibility and adjusting business tactics, the local tourism industry may reach a new audience, boosting economic growth and diversity. Curitiba, the capital of Paraná in southern Brazil, has prioritized disability-friendly tourism, particularly in its Botanical Garden, a Garden of Sensations.

AI and digital technology can help to overcome these obstacles. AI-powered solutions can determine disability travel preferences and accessibility needs in large datasets. Travel companies can optimize rooms and transportation for this demographic by using machine learning techniques. Digital tools can also raise airport and airline staff disability awareness. Staff can learn empathy and give better service by immersing themselves in real-life impaired traveller experiences through interactive training modules, augmented reality simulations, and virtual reality scenarios.

AI-driven navigation systems can also reduce terminal-gate distances. These devices help disabled travellers navigate complicated airport layouts with confidence and independence by giving real-time guidance and individualized route recommendations. AI and digital technologies can remove barriers to disability inclusion in tourism. These new technologies can help stakeholders unleash the potential of this underserved market sector and improve the tourist experience for all visitors by creating a more inclusive and accessible travel environment.


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