Discussion points at ABTA’s recent Accessible Travel and Tourism Seminar

 Saturday, February 25, 2023 


ABTA’s Accessible Travel and Tourism Seminar, which took place on Wednesday 23 February, brought together a wide range of industry experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities of accessible travel, sharing experiences and best practice.

ABTA Director of Industry Relations, Susan Deer, who moderated the event emphasised that “We will be talking about accessibility in the very broadest sense, including neurodivergence, old age, temporary disabilities. We will focus on the whole customer journey, not just, does the hotel fit the customer’s needs? Travel is a privilege, and we want as many people as possible to be able to experience it”.

Ross Calladine Head of Business Support VisitEngland and the UK Government’s Disability and Access Ambassador for Tourism explained that Government has set an ambition for the United Kingdom to become the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025, but he stressed “We are not alone, the world is waking up to the untapped opportunity of accessible travel” and that “1 in 5 of the UK population are disabled but perception needs to move beyond solely the 9% of disabled people that are wheelchair users to also consider of the needs of the other 91%”.

A number of speakers referenced the potential size of the market and potential economic opportunities offered by making travel more accessible. Ross Calladine gave an example of a hotel in Southern England which had invested in accessible rooms which then delivered an extra £6,900 revenue per room per year compared to the hotel’s standard rooms, due to having a much higher average occupancy levels.

Speakers also stressed the need to not make assumptions and to remember that all travellers with access requirements are different, Angus Drummond CEO of Limitless Travel “One of the most important things you can do is to take the time the time to talk to customers, listen to them and build their trust and confidence”. This was echoed by Alison Smith, General Manager of Mobility at Sea “Ask customers, what experiences have you had before as a traveller, how can we help you with these? Treat everyone as an individual”.

ABTA has a range of free resources for members on accessible travel, which can be found in the MemberZone, and there is also a free online training course in the Knowledge Zone.

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