The primary objective of this paper is to draw attention to the needs of disabled people and the importance of accessible tourism. Providing tourism services and holidays for those who demand assistance has become a financially successful business all over the world, nevertheless this segment is in its infancy
in Hungary, providing a market niche for entrepreneurs. The primary research focuses on the potential of this segment both from the service providers' and from the customers' point of view. The results of the questionnaire analysis reveal that this special target group does have demands for better, more sophisticated and higher level accessible tourism services.
For the sake of clarity it is important to define the basic notions of disabilities and equal opportunity even if they are not directly linked to tourism. The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its 48th session on 20 December 1993 (Resolution 48/96). It defines disability as follows: The term "disability" summarises a great number of different functional limitations occurring in any population in any country of the world. People may be disabled by physical, intellectual or sensory impairment, medical conditions or mental illness. Such impairments, conditions or illnesses may be permanent or transitory in nature (Chikan, 2001; Udo, 2002; Vegh, 2004).
Disability or handicap refers to the permanent state or feature when a person's organ of sense or locomotion, intellectual or communication skills considerably lags behind the average and this hinders or even prevents a person from participating in social life. The imparity can be congenital or may be caused by accident, illness or ageing (Chikan, 2001).
The resolution of the Parliament on the New National Program of Disability Affairs (2006). With this decision, the following disability categories are distinguished:
* Physical disability
* Visual impairment (blindness, poor eyesight)
* Hardness of hearing (deafness, hard of hearing)
* Mental disability
* Speech impairment
Basic principles to be applied concerning disabled tourists:
* Disability cannot always be noticed.
* A disabled person is not necessarily ill.
* Many people, especially the elderly, are often unwilling to admit their disability.
* Many expressions may be insulting for the disabled.
* There are a number of types of physical disabilities that cannot be placed into one category.
* Most disabled people do not like being treated in a distinguished way.
* Tour operators are not legally obliged to provide assistance to the disabled (Wilken, 2002; Smith & Puczko, 2010).
Equal opportunities and accessible tourism
Equal opportunity is a relatively new concept reflecting a significant change in attitude. Towards the end of the 1970s the demand that the disabled should be helped to lead an independent life as much as possible was formulated--this positive discrimination was necessary because the disabled are not usually ill, but they are people in a disadvantageous position who need more attention, different treatment and occasionally help (Ollos, 2003; Ratz, 2001; Michalko, 2004; Michalko, 2009).
The barrier-free development of tourism service chains is one of the characteristics of quality tourism. Barrier-free tourism is a continuous endeavour towards making all destinations, tourism products and services available for all people regardless of physical limitations, disabilities or age. It includes publicly and privately owned tourist locations. Accessibility is important not only for the disabled but also for senior citizens, families with young children and the handicapped. It is also a human rights question. The number of disabled people is continuously growing, which may create a new segment in tourism (Dezsi, 2004). …