Best practise

Turism for all

Tourism without barries (Tourism for all )

With this study, disabled tourism was investigated in four and five-star hotel establishments in Antalya, which has the highest disabled bed capacity in Turkey. In the study, 2 separate questionnaires were applied: the executive questionnaire and the disabled guest questionnaire. 326 hotel business managers and 232 disabled guests participated in the survey. The opinions of 90 hotel business managers and 232 disabled guests staying in these hotel establishments were compared. Thus, it is aimed to reveal the adequacy levels of the services provided to disabled tourists in Turkey.

As a result of the analysis, it was determined that the majority of the disabled guests coming to Turkey were mostly paralyzed and orthopedic due to their physical disability, and the majority of them came to Turkey for holiday purposes and with the recommendation of a travel agency. It has been determined that hotel business managers consider themselves competent in terms of both hardware and service personnel at the point of serving the disabled tourism market. However, when the disabled guest and manager surveys are compared, it is understood that the managers have a more positive attitude compared to the disabled guests and ignore the existing deficiencies. 

1.INTRODUCTION

Today, in addition to the positive economic, social, cultural and political effects created by tourism, the role of tourism in international economic and political relations is becoming more and more important. Therefore, the importance given to tourism is increasing both for developed countries, which have a large share of the international tourism movement, and in developing countries. Tourism is a sector that creates wide employment opportunities on an international scale. According to UNWTO Highlights reports, one out of every eleven jobs is in the tourism sector. It employs approximately 300 million people in the world. One out of every sixteen employees in the world works in the tourism sector and approximately 7% of all international capital investments are made in the field of tourism. In this context, while the importance given to tourism in the world and in Turkey is increasing, tourism trends are gaining diversity and alternative tourism movements attract people’s attention (Emekli, 2005: 100). The disabled tourism type, which maintains its currency as a new type of tourism and almost doubles the share of the tourism cake, has started to attract the attention of all countries of the world. Engaging in tourism activities is a right that all individuals in society should benefit from. Therefore, it is important to encourage the participation of those who cannot travel due to any disability (Toskay, 1989: 158). There are very few accommodation facilities that require special equipment and services for the disabled in the world and the studies carried out on this subject (Artar and Karabacak, 2003: 18).

1.1. Disabled Tourism in the World

Disability is not just a biological or social phenomenon, but a phenomenon that occurs as a result of health conditions, environmental and personal factors, separately or together. One of the factors of disability is the occurrence of a decrease in body functions or structure. In such a case, the activities of the person are limited. A person with this disability is either unable to read or has limited movements around himself. Therefore, the disabled person in this situation is a person who cannot actively participate in society and is excluded in school or work environments. People who are generally known as disabled (those with walking disabilities, visual, hearing or mental disabilities) are people who have serious problems with their health, such as chronic diseases, severe mental disorders, multiple hardening of tissues (multiple sclerosis) and old age (WHO, 2013: 6; WHO, 2001).

According to the World Health Organization (2020), more than 1 billion people in the world have disabilities, which means that 15% of the world’s population is physically, mentally and sensorially disabled.

In the “Declaration on Facilitation of Tourist Travel” of the World Tourism Organization (2009), it is emphasized that facilitating travel and tourism opportunities is the main element that should be developed for a prudent tourism (World Tourism Organization, 2009: 2). In the following years, in another study that envisaged the active participation of people with disabilities in tourism activities, the “Accessible Tourism for All” (2013) study proposed by the World Tourism Organization was approved and accepted by the General Assembly. In order to update the text published in 2005, it is underlined that tourism, as a common process, should be presented to people by tourism stakeholders by taking on a function consisting of an accessible product, service and environment designed in a universal sense. “Accessible Tourism for All” defines the measures to be taken in order for the disabled to have equal access to the physical environment, transportation facilities, information and communication facilities and facilities open to public or public use with other healthy individuals (Tütüncü and Aydın, 2013: 262).

Disabled Tourism in Turkey

In a study conducted by TÜRSAB in Turkey (2020), the number of disabled rooms in Antalya ranks first with 605. This number is followed by Muğla province with 159 handicapped rooms and Istanbul province with 147 bed capacity (TÜRSAB, 20020). In addition, Europe’s largest hotel for the disabled and Turkey’s first hotel for the disabled was opened in Marmaris District of Muğla province.

Regulations in the Chambers of Hotel Operations

When arranging disabled guest rooms, the door number should be arranged in such a way that the door number is in full contrast from the door, taking into account the disabled guests who have visual difficulties. The eye hole placed on the door in accordance with disabled individuals using wheelchairs is also an important detail to consider. In addition, depending on the “please do not disturb” or “clean the room” request to be placed in the room, the design of another illuminated button in the interior close to the bed, in relation to the room door, is an important arrangement in terms of ensuring easy accessibility of disabled guests at the point of access to services. For the hearing impaired, subtitled televisions can be found in the rooms; For those who have little hearing, the presence of eared systems connected to the television in the rooms is an arrangement that can be made so that disabled guests can have the opportunity to watch television according to their disability (Pehlivanoğlu, 2012: 29-30).

Arrangements at receptions

Mostly, the high number of reception desks in large hotel establishments makes it difficult for disabled people to access this area. For this reason, a special low section at the reception desks for disabled people who want to have check-in/out procedures while sitting is a factor that will facilitate access. If it is not possible to go to this structure, the receptionist should be able to come to the disabled guest with the necessary documents from behind the desk and perform these procedures in a suitable place. In addition, considering the differences in the disability status of disabled people, a strong lighting in the reception area is an important detail for guests who have visual difficulties as well as for guests who read lips. In particular, the fact that this lighting system is reflected from the other side to the receptionists is more suitable for disabled guests who read lips. It is important to create various types of seating opportunities in the lobby where the reception is located in order to create a comfortable environment for guests with different disabilities. In addition, the fact that the phones in the lobbies are arranged in such a way that disabled guests can access them will also be beneficial for them to benefit from these phones. For example; It will be very useful for such disabled guests to have a public phone in the lobby at a height that is accessible to wheelchair users, and to have phones with inductive coupler (a device placed in the telephone handset for this type of disabled person) in the facility for disabled people using hearing aids. Such arrangements will enable disabled people to use their phones without any assistance, and will satisfy disabled people who have decided to stay in the hotel facility at the point of access to services (Artar and Karabacakoğlu, 2003:16).

Edits in Public Areas

Perhaps the most important arrangements to be made in the hotel management for disabled guests are the arrangements to be made in general areas. Because the hotel business was established to meet the accommodation needs in the first place, but they are also businesses where the food and beverage, rest and entertainment needs of the people are met. In this context, the disabled guest will not only benefit from the room of the hotel, but also will want to benefit from other facilities and will carry him to the point of benefiting from all kinds of facilities, corridors, elevators, stairs, ramps and general area arrangements that will enable the disabled guest to benefit from the Turkish bath, sauna and pool facilities. The arrangements to be made in these areas are given below.

Corridors 

Corridors and passages should be arranged in accordance with the mutual passage of two wheelchairs. In these areas, decorations and decorations that may harm disabled guests should be avoided. For example, care should be taken to ensure that there are no wall-mounted fire extinguishers, decorative pots, paintings, and other objects that make it difficult for disabled guests to access. Because such obstacles can pose a danger to visually impaired guests or guests using wheelchairs. It is important to have grab bars for disabled guests in the corridors as it will facilitate access (Artar and Karabacakoğlu, 2003: 17).

Elevators 

In Chapter 5 of the Communiqué on the Implementation of the Regulation on the Certification and Qualifications of Tourism Facilities (2011/1), in the “Principles Regarding the Regulations for the Physically Handicapped” section, within the scope of Article 20, it is envisaged that the necessary arrangements should be made for the physically disabled to move easily in the rooms and other units of a hotel establishment. Elevators are of vital importance in hotel businesses as they provide transportation between units. If the room or food and beverage unit reserved for the use of the physically disabled is on a different floor than the ground floor, the transportation between the units should be arranged in such a way that it is provided with appropriate equipment. In Article 20 of the relevant Communiqué, it is deemed appropriate to make the following arrangements in the elevator. These regulations (T.R. Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 2011) are:

  • The door must be photocell and the door opening and closing interval should not be shorter than 5 seconds.
  • The control buttons should be arranged at a height of 90 cm-120 cm from the floor covering and in such a way as to allow wheelchair approach.
  • There must be continuous grab bars located inside the cab at a height of approximately 85 cm from the floor deck.
  • The interior of the cabin should not be carpeted.

Stairs 

Stairs are the main problem for disabled guests, especially for physically disabled guests, which is seen as disabled in hotel businesses. In order to facilitate the access of disabled guests in hotel establishments, the edges of the stairs should be made prominent with belts in contrasting colors, and their heights and depths should be arranged in such a way that they can be used by the disabled. Handrails should be placed on stairs with more than two steps (Artar and Karabacakoğlu, 2003: 17).

Ramps

The entrance part of many hotel establishments is full of difficulties for the disabled and has a difficult structure in terms of providing disabled guests with easy access to the hotel business. If it is obligatory to have stairs at the entrance of the hotel business, an arrangement should be made to have a handrail at the entrance, taking into account the disabled guests. At entrances with stairs, a bell must be kept at a height accessible to the physically disabled to call for help. A ramp with a not very high slope can make the work of this type of disabled person much easier. In addition, the steps that will allow disabled guests to access the hotel facility should be designed with an easily distinguishable and clean surface in order to be safe (Arıcı, 2010: 39). In a study conducted by Bi in China in 2006, it is emphasized that in order to facilitate the access of disabled people, it is necessary to create a barrier-free environment first, and from this formation, it is necessary to start with the arrangements of streets and buildings. In addition, it was stated in the study that ramps should be built for the physically disabled in underpasses and streets (Bi, 2006: 17). Considering that today’s hotel businesses are built on very large lands, they should be planned in such a way that ramps are applied to the necessary areas so that disabled guests can easily spend their time in the underpasses and overpasses of this formation.

Arrangements in Pools, Saunas and Baths 

Accessibility is as important as the accessibility of disabled guests to places such as pools, saunas and Turkish baths in the hotel establishments where they stay. There should be no unnecessary elevations, especially on the floors of saunas and baths. Arrangements should be made to leave empty spaces as much as the maneuvering area of the wheelchair. Since pools are larger spaces than baths and saunas, movement problems are less common in pools. The biggest problem experienced by disabled guests in the pools is experienced at the entrance and exit of the users to the pool. The problem experienced at the entrances and exits can be solved by installing elevators that can operate rotating, horizontally and vertically by the pool and in the pool. For disabled guests who want to spend time in and by the pool, the bar heights in the service section by the pool should be arranged at a height that they can reach for the physically disabled. In addition, in order to facilitate the accessibility of disabled guests who want to benefit from the gym, there should be no height differences on the floor that will interrupt the continuity (Mülayim and Özşahin, 2010: 1679).

While the arrangements to be made in the hotel facilities facilitate the disabled guests to engage in all kinds of activities within the facility, they should be taken into account and should not be an obstacle to the conditions to be provided for other guests. For example, the construction of toilet cabins for disabled guests in the toilets in pools, baths and saunas should be arranged in a way that does not cause the normal toilet cabins to be narrowed. Rather than creating special spaces for disabled guests, it would be the best approach to make common spaces accessible to everyone (Yörük, 2003: 168).

Results

As of the end of 2020, there are a total of 2982 facilities and 749,299 beds with tourism operation certificates in Turkey. The total number of facilities with tourism operation certificates in Antalya is 734 and the number of beds is 382,749 (Tourism Statistics, 2019). According to the data of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Turkey (2019), there are handicapped rooms in a total of 1033 tourism operation certified facilities. The research was carried out in Antalya province as it is the province with the highest number of disabled rooms with 605 disabled guest rooms as a result of a study conducted by TÜRSAB in Turkey (2019). In line with this information, all 4 and 5 star hotel establishments in Antalya were included in the scope of the research and the method of the research was determined. The reason why only 4 and 5-star hotel establishments are included in the scope of the research is the statement in Article 18 of the “Regulation on Certification and Qualifications of Tourism Facilities”.

In general, if we talk about the comparison of the opinions of disabled guests and hotel business managers; It is understood that the managers of the hotel establishments do not find themselves deficient in terms of both structural and service elements for the disabled tourism market, while the disabled guests draw attention to the lack of menus written in Braille alphabet in the restaurants of the hotel establishments and the lack of elevator systems in the indoor/outdoor swimming pools. In this case, it has been revealed that the managers of hotel businesses in Turkey feel ready to serve disabled tourism, but the existing structures and service elements of hotel businesses need to be improved with the new regulations that need to be made.