Accessible travel is moving up the agenda; it is attracting more publicity and being included in wider legislative changes.
Here are some of the top issues propelling accessibility into the spotlight.
- Package Travel Regulations
2018 is a year of legislative change for the travel industry. Shouldered by other new regulation such as GDPR and PSD2, the new Package Travel Regulations come into effect on 1 July.
Many travel businesses will now find themselves classed as package organisers due to the wider definition of package holidays. As such, one of the specific new requirements they face as organisers is to inform customers whether the trip is generally suitable for persons with reduced mobility. Organisations must therefore have a clear line of communication with their suppliers in order to support their customers’ needs.
Agents must also ensure they are identifying the needs of customers who have some form of disability, physical or hidden. They have a responsibility to collect detailed information in order to ensure customers get the most out of their travel and holiday arrangements.
- Adventure travel
Increasingly, the industry is seeing a demand in experiential and adventure travel. This is no different for travellers with accessibility needs and the trend is set to continue to grow. Many companies are now developing their current products to meet the demand for more inclusive local experiences. Access to more information about services will also allow travellers to create and choose their own experiences.
- Hidden disabilities
Disability awareness is growing. Last year Gatwick led the way in becoming the UK’s first autism-friendly airport and introduced a hidden disability lanyard to alert staff members that a passenger might need additional assistance. More recently, the Department for Transport have said that people with hidden disabilities could soon be entitled to a special badge for car parking. It is clear that hidden disabilities are gaining more prominence and the travel industry will need to address how to spot and make travel easier for those with less obvious accessibility requirements.
There are currently more than 11 million disabled people in the UK and the spending power of their households - 'the purple pound' - is approximately £250 billion. More inclusive travel not only offers people with accessibility needs greater choice of where to travel, but it also provides more opportunities for travel companies.