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Published on : Monday, February 11, 2013
Millions of people around the world want to travel, have the time and money to do so but are forced to stay at home because of insufficient facilities. With improved accessibility, however,the €100 billion travel and tourism market for people with disabilities or physical restrictions could develop strongly, Lilian Müller, president of the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), said at the 20th World Travel Monitor Forum.
Given the demographic trend to an ageing population in many countries, this underestimated market will inevitably grow in importance in the years and decades to come, she stressed.
In Europe alone, there are 80 million people with disabilities, according to research. When including travel companions, the potential size of the “accessible tourism” market is estimated at 133 million people, the Swedish expert said.
Worldwide, the number is estimated at between 600 million and 900 million, out of a total world population of seven billion. These figures mean that roughly 10% of the population needs “barrierfree” or “accessible” travel.
One underestimated fact is that with demographic ageing in Europe and other developed countries the proportion of elderly people with mobility restrictions, disabilities or other limitations such as reduced sight or hearing will inevitably increase, Müller pointed out. The proportion of people over 65 with long-term health problems and disabilities already lies at 42% for women and 30% for men, for example.