Accessible tourism: Tourists with physical disability - segmentation based on perceived travel barriers

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Tourism Review




School of Business and Law




National Natural Science Foundation of China / National Social Science Post-fund of China


Tao, C., Huang, S., Wang, J., & Qiao, G. (2024). Accessible tourism: Tourists with physical disability - segmentation based on perceived travel barriers. Tourism Review. Advance online publication.


Purpose: This study aims to explore the heterogeneity of the tourist market for people with a physical disability (PwPD) based on travel barriers, to serve them better, from a tourism marketing perspective. Design/methodology/approach: A market segmentation analysis was conducted on a sample of 480 PwPD in Sichuan Province, China, based on their perceived travel barriers. Data were obtained through three on-site and four online surveys. A four-step factor-item mixed segmentation, including factor analysis, cluster analysis, discriminant analysis and chi-square tests, was applied to examine the differences among PwPD tourist market segments in terms of various demographic characteristics, disability conditions (e.g. duration of disabilities and causes of impairment) and travel features (e.g. travel frequency and tourist destinations). Findings: This study revealed that the PwPD tourist market is heterogeneous due to individual perceived travel barriers. Three market segments were identified, namely, the Explorer Moderates group, the Explorer Minimals group and the Explorer Intensives group. Additionally, the three market segments were found to have significant differences in terms of travel barriers, demographic characteristics, travel features and disability conditions. Practical implications: This research provides suggestions for authorities and private entities to optimize the layout of accessible facilities in public areas for the benefit of all. It also offers crucial implications for tourism marketers to determine the key facets of marketing, for travel organizers to evolve the organization of travel groups for PwPD, and for practitioners to provide personalized tourism services. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to apply perceived travel barriers as a market segmentation criterion in understanding PwPD as a heterogeneous travel market. The findings of this study initially expand the scope of application of the travel barrier model and deepen understanding of the Chinese PwPD tourist market from a marketing perspective. The study results elucidated the heterogeneity and characteristics of this market through a four-step factor-item mixed segmentation approach, offering new insights into the behaviors and experiences of travelers with disabilities.



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