Recent research by Responsible Travel found that the travel industry is ignoring a huge opportunity to tap into disability travel. Its manifesto for the future of tourism reported that despite one in seven people around the world living with a disabling condition, the travel industry is failing to provide adequate options that deal with their accessibility requirements.
It found that, on average, adults with a disability travel just over half the distance per person per year travelled by those without; three-quarters of people with mental health issues, including anxiety and phobias, say their disability prevented them from travelling.
Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel says: “There’s a demand for accessible tourism services but the market isn’t supplying. This presents the tourism industry with a huge opportunity — to not only do the right thing but also realise the untapped potential.”
The report also highlights that in 2014, The European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) conducted a study of three million travel service providers across Europe and found that just 9 percent had accessible products on offer.
Another issue addressed in the report was companies not properly publicising what they offer customers with differing needs. To address this, Responsible Travel has called on the industry to categorise and label trips appropriately, to ensure customers know what is available to them. Companies also need to respond to requests from people with access requirements as clearly and quickly as they can to encourage bookings.
Currently, more than 46% of people aged over 60 worldwide are living with a disability. The report emphasised this as an issue affecting all areas of the industry, from travel websites, airports and airlines to ground transportation and accommodation, with potential in each sector to do more to provide for this growing market.