Original Research

Literature profiling on tourism, impairment and disability issues: A future directional guide

Tawanda Makuyana, Engelina du Plessis, Oliver Chikuta
African Journal of Disability | Vol 11 | a862 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v11i0.862 | © 2022 Tawanda Makuyana, Engelina du Plessis, Oliver Chikuta | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 March 2021 | Published: 14 December 2022

About the author(s)

Tawanda Makuyana, Department of Tourism Research Unit, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Engelina du Plessis, School of Tourism, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Oliver Chikuta, Department of Hospitality and Tourism, Faculty of Hospitality and Sustainable Tourism, Botho University, Gaborone, Botswana


Background: South African tourism is evolving towards accommodating disabled people. Within the same standpoint, the country receives ageing tourists as a major international tourism market from the Global North, whose access needs are similar to disabled people. The present article explored ‘blind and blank spots’ in the extant literature on tourism–impairment disability as a synchronised field within academic research to provide theoretical insights and gaps for the disability-tourism research community to consider the composite concept instead of individualistic concepts.

Objective: The objectives were: (1) to track knowledge development from 1990 to 2018 using a narrative literature review approach and (2) to justify future research areas previously overlooked and understudied within a tourism–impairments–disability perspective in South Africa and beyond.

Method: A narrative literature review search strategy was used. Keywords and synonymous terms were used in electronic searches of Scopus, ScienceDirect, Sabinet Online, Emerald Insights Journals, African Journals and Google Scholar. The literature screening process used predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria for the data source. Content thematic analysis was adopted for the present study.

Results: The findings reflect a dearth of tourism–impairments–disability research in South Africa. Nonetheless, there is an observable pattern of slow growth in research after the 2000s. The extant literature is skewed towards the tourism supply side and sporadic on tourism demand (tourist experiences), education and skills development.

Conclusions: It is clear that the absence of scientifically developed knowledge on disability–impairments–tourism affects inclusive tourism growth. Therefore, the research community should consider disability-inclusive (accessible) tourism management, human resources and marketing practices and knowledge for teaching material in future research.

Contribution: The article mapped and provided insights that sets a research agenda for tourism research community to see the gaps in literature and/or knowledge for accessible tourism (disability-inclusive) tourism to be a game changer as found by UNWTO (2020) with low-resources setting. Thereby setting a tone towards call for more research that can uncover an economic narrative that shows a relationship between skills development, labour and consumer markets for the participation of diverse disabled persons as such is shown as understudied in Low-to-Middle income earning countries like South Africa.


Inclusive tourism; access-needs in tourism; disability-impairment-tourism; disability-tourism research; future disability tourism research age.


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