Student hopes his travels will help pinpoint barriers


newslatestA disabled student is embarking on a piece of research that aims to “paint a comprehensive picture” of the accessibility of travel, both in the UK and abroad.
David Fraser, a postgraduate student in the tourism and hospitality department of Plymouth University, is hoping that other travellers will help his research into the risks and barriers disabled people face when travelling.
He wants to use the results of his research to influence tourism-providers and policy-makers, pointing out both good practice and areas where improvements are needed.
His website includes some of his own experiences travelling across the UK and abroad, on trips to Glasgow, Turkey, Tunisia and Cyprus.
Among the barriers he has faced are: assistance at London’s Victoria coach station ending at 9.30pm; an inaccessible main pathway to his hotel in Cyprus; a passport officer at Paphos airport in Cyprus who made him stand to one side while he dealt with all the other passengers first; and being overcharged for taxis in Tunisia.
For his next trip, he is hoping to travel further afield and, if the country has ratified the treaty, check on the impact of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Fraser, from Newquay, Cornwall, said: “Disabled tourists can face barriers of a physical or social nature, for example, areas that are inaccessible to those who have mobility or visual impairments, or a lack of awareness and understanding of disabilities.
“Many attractions and venues – and public transport-providers – have taken positive steps to counter this, and there is legislation and better awareness in the UK.
“But for people with disabilities to feel comfortable about travelling, at home and abroad, a lot more work is needed.”
It was his passion for travel that led him to complete a foundation degree at Cornwall College, before undergraduate and masters programmes in tourism and hospitality at Plymouth University.
He is now studying for a PhD in tourism, disability and perceptions of risk.
Professor Paul Brunt, head of the School of Tourism and Hospitality at Plymouth University, said he believed Fraser’s research would make “a valuable contribution to enhancing knowledge and understanding the travel risks, barriers and experiences of disabled people”.
He added: “We also hope it will play an important role in highlighting how tourism participation among [disabled people]may be more widely undertaken and enhanced.”
Fraser is asking disabled visitors to his website to complete a questionnaire.
Among the questions he asks are: how in control of risk they feel on holiday; whether they have ever been persuaded not to undertake an activity on holiday due to “someone else’s perceptions of your disability and the risks involved”; and whether some foreign cultures have a more negative attitude to disability than others.
7 May 2014