Accessible Tourism in Nepal: Deconstructing Space and the Meaning of Risk
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The following research paper explores the intersections among inclusive design, critical disability theory, constructions of risk, and accessible tourism in Nepal. The research applies disability theories and rights to tourism to highlight how spaces are disabling and contextualizes attitudinal barriers to accessible tourism. It also aims to better understand how risk is perceived for people with disabilities in Nepal. The literature review provides a context specific to Nepal and its tourism industry and environment. A qualitative analysis was undertaken through fieldwork and observation in Nepal, including interviews of 10 service providers in the tourism industry, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and disabled people’s organizations (DPO). The findings suggest that spaces were either inaccessible or inequitably available to not only people with disabilities, but also other minority groups such as women or individuals from a certain caste. Service providers in this study not only had a willingness but also a passion to become more inclusive. However, they felt that structural barriers and a general lack of awareness about disability rights hindered accessible services. The findings show the ways in which creative workarounds and experimentation can be used to navigate understanding inclusive tourism and how co-communication can be a tool for inclusivity in both sensitivity training and cross-cultural training. This study suggests future areas of research including better understanding tourists with disabilities experiences in Nepal, researching employment numbers of individuals from different minority groups, and reporting on the technical nuances of space. It also aims to present recommendations that could be implemented to help mitigate barriers to service provision. It presents ways to re-think space, inclusivity in that space, and deconstructs social perceptions on risk, tourism participation and employment for people with disabilities.