The prestigious “International Journal of Tourism Research” has published the results of an investigation on the experience of families with autistic children in the tourism sector (“Enhancing the hospitality customer experience of families with children on the autism spectrum disorder”). This investigation was led by the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management Sant Ignasi.
The study was conducted by researchers from HTSI (Mónica Cerdán, Mireia Guix, Gilda Hernández-Maskivker and Daniela Freund), ESADE (Anna Iñesta) and Blanquerna (Montserrat Castelló); three federated schools within Ramon Llull University.
The goal of this study is to analyse the intended stay in accessible accommodations by families with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the influence of the travel restrictions they face (intrinsic, interactive and environmental), the seriousness of the disorder, and the strategies these families use to face such restrictions.
A structured survey of Spanish families on this subject indicated that the intrinsic dimension and the seriousness of the disorder have a positive influence on the intention to travel. This study has helped to expand knowledge of travel restrictions involving accessible tourism, and it supplies information to those providing accommodations on how to improve the experience of customers travelling with children diagnosed with ASD.
Investigation on autism
For several years now, HTSI has been working on training and raising awareness on individuals with autism in different areas of the tourism sector. In 2018, the School of Tourism published an advice manual for travelling with children with autism. In 2016, thanks to the Open Day organized with El Liceu opera house, over a hundred children with autism spectrum disorder attended an opera rehearsal at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. That same year, an Open Day was organized at El Prat airport together with AENA and Vueling for individuals with ASD.
In the 2018-19 academic year, the “Tourism for all” course was also created. Its goal is to train the leaders of the future to have a more inclusive vision, and to understand how to design hotels that are more accessible to families of children with autism.
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