Universal Accessibility of the Tourism Product in Zimbabwe: Case Study of Hotels in Harare, Zimbabwe
Tourism in Zimbabwe has been on a positive growth trend over the past few years and is showing signs of real growth after the slump experienced at the beginning of the millennium. The Government of Zimbabwe has enacted a new National Tourism Policy to ensure that this growth is supported by a robust policy intervention, which among others also does well to recognise the need to respect the rights of persons living with disabilities. Tourism players are mostly pre-occupied in making their businesses more attractive to tourists in order to generate more revenues for their properties. However, in doing so, one group that is normally overlooked are the persons living with disabilities whose needs and interests are not normally taken on board during the construction of tourism facilities. Resultantly, they experience a lot of difficulties trying to access tourism products and even when they do, there are limited facilities for their use from elevators, sanitary facilities, reserved parking and suitable accommodation rooms. This article investigated how 2-5 star hotels in Harare are faring in terms of ensuring that their tourism products are universally accessible. The choice of the hotels was based on a purposive sampling technique which regarded all graded hotels as advanced enough to respond to the global phenomenon of universal access. The study was approached from a qualitative paradigm; however, the results were transformed into quantitative form to enable presentation and analysis of the findings. The results point to a glaring picture which warrants strong Government Intervention and business mind shift by the tourism players.
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