The overall objective for ACCESSTOUR is to produce knowledge on how to develop sustainable and accessible rural communities and nature-based tourism destinations. The project seeks to uncover and emphasize the potential for value creation that lies within accessible tourism as a perspective and as a strategy among actors involved in rural and nature-based tourism industry. ACCESSTOUR seeks to increase the accessibility and value for business, and for visitors and local inhabitants with different disabilities. The project will develop and test a template for mapping and evaluating accessibility at destinations and in SMBs and explore and test how technology can contribute to increased accessibility. Because the accessibility of tourism destinations is closely related to public planning and public goods and services like transport, parking spaces, sanitary facilities and recreational areas, the project team is cross-sectoral. Knowledge and solutions will be co-produced /co-created through collaboration processes involving researchers, destination management organisations, museums, small businesses, end users and public sector within the context of four Norwegian nature-based destinations; Vesterålen, Lofoten, Valdres and Telemark.
The main activities since project start, has been project establishing, presentation of project in relevant scientific networks, planning and organizing of a project gathering (kick-off) at Beitostølen, including all project partners and participants, and preparation of a questionnaire for a survey that will be carried out during the spring of 2022.
In June 2021, the project was presented with a poster at the conference ?NNFF9? held by The Norwegian Network on Disabililty Research. (https://ez.inn.no/konferanser/nnff-9.-forskningskonferanse).
In September 2021, 25 persons representing the project partners were gathered at Beitostølen to a kick-off for the project. ENAT ((European Network for Accessible Tourism) contributed with sharing international experiences and knowledge on different resources useful for the partners, for instance different mapping utilities, standards, guides, and handbooks. They also shared experiences from previous and ongoing projects on accessible tourism where ENAT is, or has been, involved. ENAT also provided concrete input through examples and perspectives, on how tourism operators can improve their presentation of accurate information concerning accessibility. In addition, project partners located around Beitostølen, including Øystre Slidre kommune, Beitostølen Helsesportssenter, Beitostølen Utvikling, Beito Husky and Grete Hedalen, contributed with presentations about how they work with accessibility at different scale for visitors and inhabitants. User perspectives were presented by FFO (The Norwegian Federation of Organisations of Disabled People) and an invited local inhabitant of Beitostølen.
The gathering also included a workshop where the participants, partly in groups and partly in plenary, shared experiences, knowledge, knowledge gaps and ambitions for their businesses and for the project.
For 2021, UNWTO decided that World Tourism Day at September the 27th was to focus on tourism for inclusive growth. On that occasion three of the researchers in ACCESSTOUR wrote a chronicle on accessible tourism and relevant global sustainable development goals published in Oppland arbeiderblad and Lofotposten.
To prepare for the development of a mapping utility with the aim at mapping accessibility in rural and nature-based tourism destinations, the consortium plan to conduct an end-user survey in the spring of 2022. The aim with this survey is to increase our knowledge concerning travel preferences and travel experiences for different people with different disabilities.
The point of departure for ACCESSTOUR is the tangible shortage of awareness and competence on Accessible Tourism (AT) in the Norwegian rural and nature-based tourism industry - as well as in related research fields, public sector and policies at local and national level. The project emphasizes the so far untapped potential for value creation in AT as strategy and perspective among stakeholders involved in rural and nature-based tourism industry in a Norwegian context. AT holds potential to support the operationalisation of important UN sustainable development goals, and this project will explore this potential. Not least, AT may open the tourism market for new customer groups, and new markets, including elderly retired people and local citizens. AT have a significant potential for the tourism sector to reach in the coming years, considering the aging population and the prevailing pandemic situation.
The overall objective is to produce knowledge on how to develop sustainable and accessible rural local communities and nature-based tourism destinations, through stakeholder collaboration. The project will build knowledge, create generic models and methodologies and capacity within the tourism industry and public sector with the aim of increasing accessibility and value for both business, visitors and local citizens with different disabilities, using a customer journey framework.
The study will take place in 4 Norwegian regions (Lofoten, Vesterålen, Valdres, Telemark), all nature-based and rural tourism destinations dominated by small tourism enterprises (SMEs). The project will develop generic models for how to develop sustainable and accessible tourism destinations, including methodologies and digital technologies to be used by SMEs and public sector, and models for multi-stakeholder co-creation. Potential risks are COVID-19 impacts challenging the methodological design (reduced travel possibilities), as well drop-out risk among SME partners due to bankruptcy.