Advocates for Inclusive Tourism

Working Towards Making the World Accessible For All


Global Ballooning Wins Victorian Disability Award

In May of 2012 Global Ballooning, Based in Melbourne, Australia, became Australia's first commercial hot air balloon company to put into service an accessible basket. At this years Victorian Disability Awards Kiff Sanders was recognised for supporting people with a disability winning the ‘Business and Community Supporting Disability’ category.

In the presence of unsung, selfless heroes the message becomes clearer and louder. Accessibility is about basic human rights. Accessibility is about inclusion. Accessibility is all of our business. Outside of no tourism representation in the room there was very little private business presence. We can change this.

Kiff Saunders - Global Ballooning's Director/Chief Pilot

The circumstances which led to the EAB project being undertaken began when Kiff Saunders - Global Ballooning's Director/Chief Pilot - was himself involved in a horrific motorcycle accident in January 2010. Kiff sustained life-threatening injuries, which nearly ended his career as a commercial balloon pilot. As he entered the long road of rehabilitation, having to learn to walk again, he feared that he might never again return to being a commercial balloon pilot.

Global Ballooning

While in rehab Kiff met with specialist injury lawyers Peter Burt and Clara Davies who began acting for him in his TAC claim. Having never previously acted for a balloon pilot, they embarked on research into 'a day in the life' of a hot air balloonist. This involved them experiencing an early morning flight over Melbourne and subsequent discussions about what was involved. During these discussions a bond was formed and a decision was made to build a balloon that allowed disabled persons, including clients of Burt & Davies, to experience a 'lighter than air' balloon flight over Melbourne.
Global Ballooning and Burt & Davies jointly funded the design and production of Australia's first commercial disabled passenger balloon. It was an innovative and altruistic joint venture intended to provide happiness to those who would otherwise be denied.

This project required a 'first of its type' balloon basket to be designed and constructed by an Australian Balloon manufacturer and certified airworthy by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Global Ballooning amended its operating procedures after making a successful 'safety case' to CASA and thereby obtaining an exemption against the regulations prohibiting the flight of 'handicapped persons' in commercial hot air balloon operations.

Unlike traditional balloon baskets that require passengers to climb in and out over the edge, the innovative Easy Access Basket (EAB) incorporates a door to allow less able-bodied individuals, including those with serious physical disabilities, to enter and exit the basket with ease. The EAB also incorporates customised seating, seat belts and a grab handle suspended from the burner frame.

Kiff Saunders has become a strong advocate for Inclusive Tourism and recently conducted a series of workshops with Travability for tourism businesses in the Yarra Valley. Pioneers like Global Ballooning are the key to the mindset change that is required across the tourism industry to make Inclusive Tourism a reality and part of mainstream business.

Like most industries the disability sector relies heavily on partnerships and a collaborative approach. Our easy access basket was born under exactly the same principal. Thinking laterally in our businesses we can tap into creativity and innovation – make the impossible possible to create tourism products that are inclusive to all.

Kiff Saunders



Deborah and BillTravAbility was founded in 2007 by Bill Forrester and Deborah Davis.

Our mission is to be agents of change; to inspire people who have never traveled before to do so, and to inspire others to do more. To encourage all cultures of the world to see disability as an integral part of life, and to provide the motivation and tools to the tourism industry to allow them to create accessible environments that enable inclusion in an economically sustainable way.

We offer a range of services to tourism operators and Destination Marketing Boards to enable them to take advantage of the growing Accessible Tourism market:

  • Staff and Management Training
  • Marketing Services and Toolkits
  • Industry Presentations and Conference Sessions
  • Property Audits and Universal Design planning
  • Self Audit Tools
  • National/State/Regional Park Guides and Trail Maps
  • Disability Action Plans and Access Statements
  • New Project planning and Development
  • Stock Imagery through PhotoAbility
  • Accommodation listings through TravAbility Properties

For more information on how you can make your business more attractive to the traveler with a disability contact Bill or Deborah.