People of all backgrounds and abilities have the desire to travel. From family reunions to business trips and exotic vacations, tourism is integral to daily life. But far too often, tourism websites, hotels, airplanes, and cruise ships fail to provide travel accessibility to people with disabilities. One survey shows that 96% of 2,700 respondents with disabilities say they’ve experienced accommodation issues—86% with flight problems and 79% with in-market transportation obstacles. While some are taking significant steps in the right direction, the travel and hospitality industry, as a whole, has a lot of catching up to do.

This blog helps explain travel accessibility, examines disability-related tourism trends, and offers helpful, accessible travel solutions

What Is Accessible Travel?

Accessible travel means people of all abilities can take trips without physical or digital obstacles preventing their convenience and enjoyment. Accessible tourism empowers people to cherish and benefit from their travels regardless of physical or cognitive disability considerations. And because most people start their tourism plans online, it’s time for travel websites to embrace and integrate digital accessibility to keep up with changing consumer trends. For example, desktop use consistently declines as mobile becomes the preferred standard. 

Read on to learn why you can’t have travel accessibility without digital accessibility. 

Tourism Websites and Digital Accessibility

Destination websites are typically the first stop on the vacationer’s journey. Yet limited accessibility can send disabled travelers in the wrong direction and quickly off your website. A 2021 UK study found that over 70% of people with disabilities leave inaccessible websites. 

One billion people have disabilities, representing the most significant global minority segment. This critical demographic has formidable spending power and wants to travel. If your site isn’t accessible, just imagine how much revenue you’re leaving on the table (we explore this further in the following section).  

  • 83% of American adults prefer online booking
  • 94% of those who need accessibility info considered it critical
  • Nearly 70% are less likely to book if they can’t locate accessibility info 
  • 70% of people research travel on smartphones
  • Roughly 700 million end users will book online through 2023

Tourism and hospitality websites need information that’s easy to find and understand concerning local tourist destinations and accessibility. This vital content enables people with disabilities to discover and enjoy places and activities that enrich their tourism experience. 

Moreover, disability travel and tourism will only continue rising, as the next section illustrates. 

The Accessible Tourism Market

What are the costs of inaccessibility to the hospitality industry? Beyond the legal requirements and ethical obligation to serve everyone equally, the financial impacts are notable. 

  • American adults with disabilities spend $17 billion+ on traveling annually 
  • Those with mobility impairments spend nearly $60 billion annually
  • Accessible tourism in Europe could produce almost $100 billion by 2025
  • Travelers who need accessibility more commonly choose four-plus-star hotels and high-grade airplane seats
  • About 13 million disabled people traveled in 2018-19, and it is projected at 33.4 million by 2028. 

Are you planning a business trip or a leisurely vacation? The handy tips outlined below help simplify traveling with a disability. 

Accessible Travel Solutions: Five Helpful Tips

1. Reserve Mobility/Transport Devices

You’ll need constant access to this equipment, so it’s best to set it up beforehand.

2. Reach Out Airlines and hotels

Contact airlines and hotels for accommodations and accessibility information before you leave. That way, you’ll know potential obstacles concerning bed type/height, lavatory dimensions, wheelchair access, etc.  

3. Understand Pet & Service Animal Guidelines

Humans take great comfort from animals. Pets can decrease blood pressure, slow heart rate, lessen anxiety, reduce depression, and support well-being.

4. Get a Transporter if Necessary

These folks can help you get around the airport, and all airlines have them. They are a fantastic support system, especially for solo travelers with special considerations.  

5. Use Your Camera App as a Magnifier

Capturing memorable moments is vital to any great travel experience, but the camera app has more practical applications, too. For instance, crucial airport signage can be hard to read from a distance. Use the camera app to zoom in before you take the shot, or just enlarge the text on your screen after you take it.

Travel Accessibility Will Define the Future of Tourism

Travelers with disabilities face obstacles at almost every step of their experience. Barriers are most prevalent in lodging and transportation, two critical parts of anyone’s travel plans. But we should all be heartened by an industry trending in the right direction. Whether it’s an accessible museum or disability access to Disney World, inclusivity enhances the travel experience for people of all abilities. 

There’s still an uphill climb, but the tourism industry can lead by example. It just takes top-down leadership support and the latest available technology. From there, the possibilities are as endless as travel itself.   

See why UserWay is the preferred accessibility and compliance choice for millions of organizations worldwide. 

UserWay: Digital Accessibility for All Industries

It doesn’t matter what industry or market sector your organization represents. You need an accessible website to accommodate people of all abilities. It’s the law, an ethical obligation, and a critical business strategy. UserWay’s AI-powered tools, legal services, and commission-driven partnership programs help companies of every background provide and conform to digital accessibility standards.

Ready to take your travel or hospitality services further?

Get a one-on-one consultation or begin a free UserWay trial today. 

Answers to Common FAQs

How Does Accessibility Enhance Tourism?

Basic adjustments to physical locations, offering accurate info, and understanding what people with disabilities need can increase tourism through an enjoyable travel experience. 

What are the Three Kinds of Tourism Accessibility?

Physical, sensory, and communication are the three main categories.

What are Digital Accessibility Requirements?

Digital accessibility removes obstacles that deter engagement with or access to websites, digital devices, and third-party assistive technologies.