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Disability Travel Generates $17.3 Billion in Annual Spending

Posted by ROLAND REZNIK on September 09, 2015. 0 Comments

The Open Doors Organization, also known as ODO, has conducted a market study regarding the spending trends and market scope of travelers with disabilities within the United States. The results proved that the disability travel market has a large impact on the travel industry and the broader economy. The ODO confirmed that adults with disabilities traveled for pleasure taking 73 million trips within the past two years alone.

The Open Doors Organization study of 2015 showed results of adults with disabilities spending $17.3 billion annually on their own travel. In addition, since they usually brought along family and friends, the economic impact is double and reaches $34.6 billion. During their travels, adults with disabilities have voiced the types of barriers they experience, with 72% encountering obstacles with a variety of airlines and 65% with airports. These percentages may seem high in today’s world, but they are actually down from 84% and 82% in 2005. The ODO study also showed results that travelers with disabilities experience physical barriers, communication barriers and issues with customer service.

Wheelchair Accessible Cities and Vacation Spots

The top vacation spots for wheelchair accessible destinations include the Skydeck in Downtown Chicago, Silver State Beach in Coronado, California and the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colorado.

Some of the most wheelchair-friendly cities for travelers around the world are:

  • Seattle, WA
  • Montreal, Canada
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • London, England
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Boston, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Paris, France
  • Munich, Germany

There are cities, states and countries in the process of making improvements to accommodate wheelchair users.

Wheelchair Travel Requirements

As wheelchair users travel worldwide, they will find that cruise ships, trains, buses and airlines vary in their regulations and rules in regards to wheelchair travel requirements. Regulations can change at any time depending on mandatory safety travel rules that are set in place by state and government regulators. Checking ahead of time at the beginning stages of planning trips is encouraged, to assure all rules are adhered to and prevent delays or further obstacles.

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Wheelchair Traveling Tips

  • Plan ahead
  • Update your travel documents, including your passport
  • Contact a travel agent who specializes in making travel arrangements for wheelchair users
  • Conduct research on the destination, method of travel and hotel accommodations
  • Prepare for possible setbacks
  • Keep important phone numbers programmed in your cellphone contacts list
  • Make advance reservations for wheelchair accessible transportation such as buses, taxis and shuttles when possible
  • Inquire about wheelchair assistance options
  • Inquire about wheelchair accessibility for amusement park rides
  • Learn details related to information about special equipment and wheelchair requirements
  • Verify that your wheelchair is in good working condition by consulting with a wheelchair maintenance professional before your trip
  • Bring a travel size repair kit that provides the necessary tools to make small repairs to your wheelchair during your trip
  • Confirm reservations 48 hours before your scheduled departure
  • Request a gate check when traveling via air plane
  • Notify the airline, cruise ship, bus or train company about your disability by advising them of the type of wheelchair and other equipment you will require during your trip

It is not a secret that the disability travel industry generates billions of dollars per year. Gradual increase is expected in years to come. The travel industry, including hotels, taxis, trains, airlines, bus systems and more, are expected to make major changes to accommodate the overwhelming amount of travelers with disabilities. 

Sources:

Open Door

Wheelchair Friendly Cities 

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