Friday, 10 July 2015

Responsible Travel publishes accessible tourism guide for 1 in 5 global travellers with a disability

Responsible Travel

As recent research shows that with adequate services demand in the accessible tourism industry could potentially increase by 44% a year, Responsible Travel has published an inspirational Accessible Tourism guide for the 1 in 5 travelers globally who have a disability.

Since 2008, it has been illegal for airlines and holiday companies to refuse to fly people in and out of the European Union (EU) because they are disabled. Yet recent research shows that the European tourism sector is still missing out on as much as €142 billion due to insufficient services and in the UK alone two-thirds of businesses and attractions are not accessible causing a loss of £2 billion-a-year.

The accessible tourism guide represents Responsible Travel’s first steps towards establishing a more permanent and cohesive inclusive tourism service, not just incorporating access for wheelchair users but holidays which welcome people with a wide range of disabilities, visible or not. The aim is to provide a detailed overview of the inclusive tourism industry, to celebrate success stories such as Catalonia’s ‘Tourism for All’ scheme, and to increase awareness on the different forms of disability.

Ahead of this year’s annual Disability Awareness Day on 12th July, the Responsible Travel guide aims to encourage people to expand their horizons when it comes to travel. The key message is that the inclusive tourism industry is much broader than many people think, with accessible safaris, small ship cruises, cycling, scuba-diving trips all available. It encourages travellers to be brave with their holiday choices, with advice from experts on how to push travel boundaries and how they can help educate the industry on providing more accessible tourism.

Reflecting how important the topic of accessibility is becoming in the responsible tourism movement, in 2014 the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM, organized by Responsible Travel, introduced its first category for accessible tourism. Commenting on this, Awards founder and managing director of Responsible Travel, Justin Francis, says:

“When Campo & Parque Dos Sonhos, an inspirational and inclusive Brazilian adventure park, was announced as the joint-overall winner of the 2014 World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM it sent a clear signal to the responsible tourism industry that we need to do more to encourage and develop inclusivity.

Our new guide aims to inspire both disabled travellers and the tourism industry to be braver and to break down barriers to understanding accessibility needs. As a site we know we have a long way to go to offering truly inclusive tourism, but ahead of Disability Awareness Day we hope this guide is just a starting point for a process of positive change.”

Catalonia, Spain has emerged as a forerunner in the accessible tourism industry and is now offering 22 holiday options via Responsible Travel.

A spokesperson from the Catalan Tourist Board, which sponsored the creation of the new guide, said:

“Accessible tourism must be based on the principle that tourism is a fundemental social right for all, since for people with disabilities or reduced mobility and for everyone, the activities included under the categories of tourism and leisure are key to enjoying quality of life.”

Based on Responsible Travel’s 2014 bookings, the top 5 accessible holidays are:

Disability Awareness Day (‘DAD’) is held annually in the grounds of Walton Hall gardens in Warrington and attracts 250 exhibitors and 25,000 visitors, making it the largest ‘not for profit’ voluntary-led disability exhibition in the world.

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