Accessible tourism matters for everyone, not just the wealthy

Accessible tourism matters for everyone, not just the wealthy

For a long time, those making a case for accessible tourism for people with disabilities have argued that there is a large market composed of those with special needs and the wealth to pay for it.

At WTM London, we ran many sessions addressing this lucrative market and explored some products and services who are doing things right.

Take Endeavour Safaris for example; awarded Gold in the Responsible Tourism Awards in 2015, they offer the African safari experience in a wheelchair and with the added capability of dialysis.

Endeavour Safaries enjoyed the joint gold prize alongside Scandic Hotels, who were applauded on their success in creating accessible sites and ensuring that guests had the information standard they needed to book – they have a fantastic 159 point accessibility standard.

And that’s not all – Scandic were also recognised for providing information about accessible attractions around the area – a much needed service as evidenced by previous winners Cavan who were presented gold in 2014 for the same reason.

If we look at what we need to plan when booking a holiday, we generally factor in transport, accommodation and activities. These things can have hefty costs attached for the most basic services. When you consider that each is a potential challenge for people with disabilities (let alone entire families) the price can drastically increase.

Which brings us onto our next point and unfortunate truth – those with disabilities and wealth can travel – those with disabilities but without wealth cannot.

ResponsibleTravel have just published the second chapter of their manifesto for the future of travel, pointing out that equal access to travel and tourism is a myth.

“On average, adults with a disability travel just over half the distance per person per year travelled by adults without a disability. Families with children with access requirements feel unable to take a holiday together.” It does not have to be like this.

If you’re in need of proof, then look no further than Parque dos Sonhos in Brazil.

Offering world-leading accessibility (it has made almost every activity in the park accessible for all), families are truly able to have fun together. I watched a 90-year-old and a paraplegic come down a zip wire that I was too nervous to attempt – this inclusive tourism… I excluded myself!

When I met Park Director, José Fernandes Franco, he explained why he decided to make his resort accessible to people with disabilities. He stated a simple truth that hides in plain sight: we all need slopes when we are young for our scooters and bicycles; parents need the same slopes to push us in prams and buggies, and then in our twilight years we often need them again.

Accessible for people with disabilities is not, as Responsible Travel’s evidence shows, a minority interest – we all need some of it during our lives, some of us need more of it than others, but we all need it.

WTM London’s 2019 World Responsible Tourism Awards are now open for submissions – enter now!

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Harold is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracted 4000 participants in 2020 and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Latin America. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.


  1. Amal Lari says:

    Gathering peopele from middle East in wtm is what am aiming and I would like to invest in London at the beginning and then continuously will improve the project and bring more and more nations, that’s also will help my vision to do such International Business development.

  2. A very good way to help challenged travelers get to places where they can be successful visitors is to provide them with the information in advance which will tell them about the barriers, ramps, other conditions which may impede or help them.
    See a new means to share accessibility information for a site, shop, restaurant or accommodation at http:\\ for free templates to share access information with those who need it.

  3. Thanks Harold for the write up and a slight insight to what you have been looking into. Personally as I have been living with a disability for now say 20years I feel one area which seriously needs to look into is planning. People with disabilities have to plan in advance for a holiday and that takes most of time. Traveling with abled bodied people can surely change the dynamics of planning. Nice to see your on the case of assessible travel – will be good to connect with you separately about my plans with accessibility and travel – best Abhishek

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