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Travelers with Disabilities: The Untapped Market

When most people think about accommodating people with disabilities in their business we get a scared feeling in their gut & their mind scrambles to search for that all-important date when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect. It doesn't have to be that way! When business owners open their eyes & start to realize that there's literally billions of dollars to be made in the obtainable travel market, I believe we will start to remove the fear associated with the ADA. there's currently over 50 million people with disabilities in the United States & 180 million worldwide, representing the single largest untapped tourist market in the world. According to a recent Harris Poll conducted in conjunction with the Open Doors Organization & the Travel Industry Association of America, the 50 million people with disabilities in our country have a combined income of over $175 billion. In 2002, these people took 32 million trips & spent over $13.6 billion on travel ($4.

2 billion on hotels, $3.3 billion on airfare, $2.7 billion on food & beverage, & $3.4 billion on retail, transportation, & other activities). This study suggested that these travelers would double their spending if some minor amenities were made available.

Meet & greet programs at airports, preferred seating on airplanes, hotel rooms closer to amenities, & employees who go out of their way to accommodate guests with disabilities topped the list. With this in mind, it is a wonder that more business owners have not taken steps to make their accommodations more obtainable & even start marketing to these travelers. If the staggering numbers listed above aren't proof , the U. Census Bureau recently stated that 16.5% of all people with disabilities in the U. leave their home one days per week or less. That constitutes 11 million people that are not travelling at all. Also keep in mind that there's millions of people in their golden years that are looking for obtainable travel accommodations.

plenty of of these people use canes or walkers, travel with oxygen tanks, or have other mobility impairments, & are not included in disability statistics. The current trends in adaptive travel show most of these travelers taking advantage of destinations that we know are already obtainable such as cruise ships, Florida, & Las Vegas. The visitors bureaus & businesses at these destinations that have gone to great lengths to ensure their visitors that there won't be any accessibility issues during their stay. From personal experience & years of travelling in a wheelchair, I can guarantee that these locations have built & will continue to build strong relationships with travelers with disabilities. This group is a very loyal one, who will often return to the same city, hotel, or activity provider year after year if we have a good experience. If everyone were to catch on to this we would see growth in the tourism industry like we have rarely seen! With millions of people in require of obtainable travel options, & with our infant Boomers (almost 25% of our population) starting to reach retirement age as well now is the time to start thinking about improving marketing efforts to include people with disabilities & about better overall accessibility in general. By educating business owners on the benefits of marketing to people with disabilities & educating travel agents who are fighting a losing battle with the web, we can begin to focus on this old target market. If you need to take advantage of the rapidly growing adaptive travel market, get started now! I recommend hiring an expert to get your business rated & start removing barriers to access as soon as possible. think about accessibility anytime you are planning a remodel or addition. These improvements will benefit everyone, not just people with disabilities.

For those of you who have already taken steps to improve accessibility, start bragging about it.


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