The current study examines the potential contribution of tour guides’ communications to the vacation experience of intellectually disabled tourists. It investigates tour guides’ perception of different verbal and non-verbal communication methods and tour guides’ traits when interacting with this segment. The study assesses as well the effect of a disability awareness workshop on raising tour guides’ knowledge and awareness of specific communication needs of intellectual disabled tourists. A survey questionnaire was developed and then tested for reliability and validity using a sample of tour guides. EFA and CFA were used to identify factors and to assess model validity. SME was performed to test the hypothesized relationships. Results revealed that the disability awareness workshop has a significant impact on raising tour guides’ awareness of intellectually disabled tourists communication needs. Furthermore, the study shows that the non-verbal communication dimension with its two sub-constructs “Kinesics” and “paralinguistics and haptics”, had a considerable significant regression weight on the proposed model (Tour Guide Communication Competences TGCC). Accordingly, this study serves as an exploratory research that provides a better understanding of the communication needs of intellectually – disabled tourist experience. Conclusions and recommendations for further research are provided.
Keywords: intellectually-disabled tourists, non-verbal communication, personal and behavioral traits, tour guides, verbal communication
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