Fairs and Festivals Amusement Rides

Tourist Railways

Nature and Wildlife Parks and Reserves

Dining rooms, restaurants, cafes and bars

Core Elements

Pre-arrival, arrival, reception, parking, entrance, lifts, interior spaces, public areas, displays, paths of travel, steps, ramps, public toilets, adult change facilities

Hotel Accommodation

Core Information and Communication

The core module applies to all businesses and all disability categories.

How to Use the Checklists

This guide encourages owners and operators to take a fresh look at their premises from the point of view of someone with a disability.

Module 2 – Defining the Customer with a Disability

Defining the Customer with a Disability

Travel, recreation and leisure are all about the “experience” which ideally should be seamless from planning, to arrival back home. Enjoyment comes from those experiences and the way they are shared with others. The experience lingers in the memories of those who participated. A truly remarkable travel experience leaves the visitor changed in some way.

The reason it is so difficult for people with a disability to participate freely is that industry as a whole has not yet recognized that fundamentally a person with a disability is no different from any other person in their aspirations for a remarkable experience.

People with a disability are present in all sectors in roughly the same proportion as the general population. They are not like the backpackers, adventure tourists, or luxury travelers that can be conveniently put into unique product boxes with targeted marketing campaigns. The common misconception is that the needs of all people with a disability are the same. In one sense that misconception has been reinforced by the social model of disability which, in defining the social barriers, has concentrated on a narrow sub set of physical access requirements largely limited to car parks, toilets, building access and hotel rooms. By concentrating on the narrow access requirements the industry has effectively created an artificial sector of people with a disability that ignored their actual aspirations. 

A disability, in reality is just a different level of ability. Physical ability is just one element in the total capability set of the human being.

Disability is the only minority group anyone can join in an instant

Disability is often regarded as a homogeneous concept. The opposite is true. As with the general population ability is on a continuum.

The arbitrary line defining disability is exactly that, an arbitrary line. The advent of modern alloys and design has opened up a vast range of activities including some at the extreme adventure end of the spectrum. People with a disability can be found across the full range of sporting and leisure activities. Their tastes and budgets, likewise, spread from economy to five star and include the conference and meetings market. The key to developing tourism/leisure product is to look at the aspirations of potential customers, the opportunities that exist within a destination and the technology available to allow participation by people of all abilities. Customer expectations should drive the product development.

In reality the arbitrary line is more like the image above. New equipment, better information and changing perceptions are allowing many people with a disability to engage in active activities that many able bodied people wouldn’t dream of engaging in.

Module 1 – Understanding the Accessible Tourism Market

Accessible Tourism is the fastest growing market in Tourism. It is not a market segment as travellers with a disability cross all tourism segments.These training modules will give you a background to the market, help you understand who a traveller with a disability is and what their aspirations for travel are, how to provide exceptional customer service, how to make adjustments and modifications to help you attract the market and finally how to market to travellers with a disability.

We will start with our presentation to the second Destinations for All World Summit in Brussels, Monday afternoon plenary session, where we examine who the traveller with a disability really is and what makes a remarkable accessible tourism experience.


The tourism industry is facing a rapidly changing environment. The population is ageing and living longer. The retiring Baby Boomer generation will control over 50% of the total tourism spend and will be demanding experiences that differ from those generations that have preceded them.

This active generation, who will be carrying with them age related disabilities, will expect a new level of accommodation from the tourism industry. They will not identify with the traditional disability sector, but will instead expect accessible tourism services to be provided by the mainstream industry. This generation is tech savvy and online and will expect accessibility information to be provided in the same place as all other tourism information, whether that is accommodation, attraction specific or destination wide.

Government policy encouraging diversity of employment will also greatly affect the MICE market. Conference organisors and venue operators will have to accept that almost all future conferences will have to cater for people with a disability at all levels of client companies.

The tourism industry has to make a quantum shift in the way it views people with a disability and has to learn how to provide fulfilling experiences as it does with any other sector. 

The economics driving accessible tourism are enormous with the contribution predicted to be 25% of the total tourism market by 2020.

It is imperative that the changing demographic is taken into account and that future Tourism Strategies around the world incorporate an active role in encouraging the industry to adopt Accessible Tourism product. Further, tourism advertising should incorporate Accessible Tourism to attract the market. Major events should all cater for people of all abilities as part of the normal operation.

Understanding the Market

What is Accessible Tourism

All sorts of terms have been used to describe this growing market from Barrier Free Tourism in the United Kingdom, Accessible Tourism in Australia, Access Tourism in New Zealand. All of those terms have their foundations based on the physical term of “access” More often than not those expressions also have a narrow interpretation as people think of them applying only to travelers with a mobility related disability.

More correctly what we are describing in talking about basic cultural change within the Tourism industry is an “Inclusive” environment where people of all abilities are felt welcome and wanted as customers and guests.

Accessible Tourism has to be about understanding a new market and developing products and services to match those customer expectations in a programmatic not risk management approach.

The growth of the market is being driven by the following key factors:

The ageing population

The retiring and cash up Baby Boomer Generation

A changing perception of the soft adventure market

New technologies opening up greater opportunities for people with a disability

The Economics of Accessible Tourism

2017/18 Australian Research

In the first piece of new research into the Australian domestic Accessible Tourism market in nearly 10 years, MyTravelResearch were commissioned to do both a qualitative and qualitative study with the aim of determining the current value of the market, the latent demand and the key barriers preventing travel for people with a disability.

The research has placed a total value of the domestic market at $8 billion. 

The research looking at Australian domestic tourism only. Early work by Simon Darcy looked at both domestic and inbound and if the same parameters are applied to current NVS data the pre Covid-19 estimate for International inbound accessible tourism is $2.8 billion.

If domestic and inbound are added together the total accessible tourism market for Australia is 10.8 billion, which is larger than the Chinese inbound market for the same period ($10.4 billion)

Visit England Research 2014 -2018

Visit England recognised the value of Accessible Tourism by coining the phrase the “Purple Pound”.

The purple pound is the spending power of people with a disability.

VisitBritain/VisitEngland has estimated the value of the purple pound to the tourism industry by adding a question regarding health conditions and impairments to the three main tourism surveys. The data gathered allows provides at look at both the volume and value of the accessible tourism market and their underlying trends.

Total spend

  • The total expenditure generated by those with an impairment or those travelling within a group where a member had an impairment is estimated to be £15.3 billion
  • Inbound visitor spending by this group was £0.5 billion in 2018 
  • Domestic overnight visitor spending by this group was £3.2 billion in 2015 
  • Day visitor spending by this group was £11.6 billion in 2018.

Contribution to tourism – volume

Trips taken by those with an impairment and their travelling companions made up:

  • 2% of all inbound trips in 2018
  • 15% of domestic overnight trips in 2015
  • 20% of day visits in 2018.

Contribution to tourism – spend

The spend from trips taken by those with an impairment and their travelling companions made up:

  • 2.2% of all inbound trip spending in 2018
  • 16% of domestic overnight trip spending in 2015
  • 20% of day visit spending in 2018.

Average spend

  • The average spend per inbound visit was £660 for all trips, compared to £740 for trips taken by those with an impairment and their travelling companions.
  • The average spend per domestic overnight trip was £191 for all trips, compared to £210 for trips taken by those with an impairment and their travelling companions.

Average length of stay

The average length of stay per inbound visit was 7.3 nights for all trips, compared to 11.6 nights for trips taken by those with an impairment and their travelling companions.

The average length of stay per domestic overnight trip was 2.9 nights for all trips, compared to 3.3 nights for trips taken by those with an impairment and their travelling companions.

Age of traveller

  • Those aged over 65 made up 7% of all inbound visits, compared to 39% of trips taken by those with an impairment and their travelling companions.
  • Those aged over 65 made up 16% of all domestic overnight trips, compared to 35% of trips taken by those with an impairment and their travelling companions.
  • Those aged over 65 made up 17% of all day visits, compared to 26% of day visits taken by those with an impairment and their travelling companions.

Key Points:

20% of day trip market and 14% of the overnight market

Growth in value 3 times tourism in total, 33% for Accessible Tourism 11% Total Tourism

Length of stay and average spend both higher

Over 65 more people with a disability than able bodied

High percentage of the total market at a young age

The Impact of the Baby Boomers

From the 2015 Intergenerational Report – Australia in 2055, the number of Australians aged 65 and over is projected to more than double by 2054-55, with 1 in 1,000 people projected to be aged over 100. In 1975, this was 1 in 10,000.

The number of people aged 15 to 64 for every person aged 65 and over has fallen from 7.3 people in 1975 to an estimated 4.5 people today. By 2054-55, this is projected to nearly halve again to 2.7 people.

Baby Boomer Attitudes will change the required product mix.

It is clear from the demographic data that the Baby Boomer generation will have a significant impact on the tourism market. The Baby Boomers will be unlike any other generation of retirees that have come before it. It is an adventurous and consumer driven generation. Further, unlike previous generations, it will spend its accumulated wealth rather than build a nest egg to pass on to future generations. It will dominate the tourism market for the next 20 years.

The impact on Accessible Tourism is significant as over 40% of them will be retiring with some form of disability, raising the total value of the Inclusive Tourism sector to over 25% of the market by 2025.