Around the world, there are thousands of people with disabilities who truly wish to travel and explore the world, but there are only a limited number of locations around the world that provide services for the disabled. Travel experts are now bringing the issue forward in hope of giving disabled tourists better chances for a great travel experience.
The travel industry is increasing in value each year and countries are competing more fiercely for the tourism dollar. More and more countries are becoming dependent on the tourism industry as their main source of income, but there are still a large number of gaps that need to be filled. A large group of people exists who are desperate to travel more but also have special needs that are not met, therefore preventing them from traveling the world independently. It is estimated that there are 650 million disabled people across the globe and many who have tried to travel have found it is extremely challenging and discouraging. It comes down to the fact that service providers are not meeting the needs of the disabled.
Mr Dimitrios Buhalis, a tourism expert from Bournemouth University, has taken an interest in this issue. He believes that the tourism industry in missing out on a great opportunity by not paying attention to the needs of the disabled. He also believes that adopting a more proactive approach would be a huge benefit to the industry as well as opening up an untapped market, especially now that many countries are coming out of recession.
Disabled people have voiced concern about the challenge of finding a hotel that caters to their needs. Additionally, transportation to and from an airport in some countries is a major obstacle and difficult to plan for. The other side of the discussion is that many service providers know that the equipment required to cater for people with disabilities is quite expensive. Another problem is that some countries are only just beginning to develop their tourism industry, and therefore have yet to cater for people with special needs. However, many disabled people point out that there are a number of countries with well-developed tourism industries that lack the basics as well. The potential is absolutely huge and as the tourism industry grows, it must look at the opportunities of this market that, for too long, has been incredibly underserved.