Inclusive Tourism - The Most Under Serviced Sector in Travel

Why and How to Present Accessibility Information and Attract the Inclusive Tourism Market


This image is available from PhotoAbility

What is Inclusive 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 Inclusive Tourism is an environment where people of all abilities are felt welcome and wanted as customers and guests.

Market Size

For the first time Inclusive Tourism is being regarded as an economic market driven by the retirement of the baby boomer sector. Inclusive Tourism is already a major tourism sector with Australian research putting its value at 11% of the total industry market share. US research by McKinsey & Company predicts that by 2015, the baby boomer generation will command almost 60 percent of net U.S. wealth and 40 percent of spending. In many categories, like travel, boomers will represent over 50 percent of consumption. The impact on the Inclusive Travel sector 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 2020.
There are myths in the marketplace that suggest that people with a disability travel far less than the general population, however, the 2008 Australian National Visitor Survey estimated the following:

  • Some 88% of people with disability take a holiday each year that accounted for some 8.2 million overnight trips.
  • The average travel group size for people with a disability is 2.8 people for a domestic overnight trip and 3.4 for a day trip.
  • There is a myth that the inclusive tourism market does not spend because of economic circumstance. That is false as it is a significant proportion of each travel market segment.
  • They travel on a level comparable with the general population for domestic overnight and day trips.
  • The total tourism expenditure attributable to the group is $8bn per year or 11% of overall tourism expenditure.

Latest research from VisitEngland puts Accessible Tourism as a major market segment:

  • Value per annum to the UK economy 12.4 billion pound
  • 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 


“American adults with disabilities or reduced mobility currently spend an average of $13. 6 billion a year on travel. Creating accessible cruise ships, accessible ship terminals, accessible ground transportation, and accessible tourist destinations is not charity. It is just good business.”

Dr Scott Rains. a US expert on disability issues


What sort of Experiences is a Traveler with a Disability Looking For?



All images are available from PhotoAbility

Enhance your Utilisation by Providing the Right Information

The Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission’s draft report on the barriers facing Victorian Tourism expressed some concern over the cost and lack of utilisation of accessible rooms. A review of the accessibility requirements, however, argued business could address this low use of accessible rooms by more carefully designing accessible rooms, educating staff and better marketing to older people as well as people with a disability. The attitudes of tourism establishments is the same the world over. Accessible infrastructure is seen as a liability not as an asset.
Changing culture is all about treating with a disability as a customer and redefining those "accessibility requirements" as valuable products to attract a new and growing customer group.
Key elements are:

  • Don’t assume all disabilities are the same 
  • Don’t hide the information, put it where the rest of the facility information is. Bookings are often made by friends, family or employers. Headings such as “special facilities” or “compliance requirements” are meaningless and demeaning.
  • Provide enough detail. This is critical every person with a disability has a different need and a different level of expectation. Dont try and categorize. Provide the detail so that they can make the decision as to whether a facility is suitable or not as any other customer would make a choice based on the information you provide on other room types.
  • Use photographs of your accessible facilities
  • Include people with a disability in your general marketing and imagery

Examples of Critical Inclusive Information



  • Ramped or level access
  • Door Width
  • Type of door: Automatic, Manual, Manual with doorman


  • Door width
  • Depth
  • Width
  • Control height, braille
  • Audio floor announcements

Guest Rooms with Facilities


  • Door width
  • Type of beds available
  • Largest free space at side of bed
  • Height of bed
  • Clear space under bed
  • Height of desk
  • Clear space under desk 
  • Clothes rail height in wardrobe
  • Light switch next to the bed

Paths of access


  • There is level or ramped access in the hotel to the swimming pool, parking and restaurant
  • Pool lift availability
  • Garden or connecting paths: width and surface

En-suite Bathroom


  • Door width 
  • Roll in shower
  • Wall mounted shower seat provided: or, a free standing chair is available upon request
  • Shower handrail 
  • Remote shower head
  • Toilet seat height 
  • Widest clear space next to Toilet 
  • Clear space in front of Toilet
  • Handrail: Fixed, position
  • Sink height 
  • Clear space under sink 
  • Height from the floor to the base of the mirror

Dining and Bars


  • Accessible entry
  • Clear path to tables
  • Tables, including outdoor settings accommodate roll under wheelchair
  • WC facilities
  • Choice of table locations and sizes
  • Servery is accessible from wheelchair height 
  • Braille or large print menus
  • Food is available pre-cut
  • Dietary restrictions catered for
  • Access to dance floor


This is by no means an exhaustive list but it serves to indicate the level of detail required by a person with a disability to make an informed decision as to whether or not a facility is suitable for their needs.

It offers an opportunity to develop products to service one of the fastest growing and loyal market segments in tourism.

The following downloads provide information to enable tourism establishments to begin to think about Inclusive Tourism as a product.


Travability offers a full service to aid in the development of Inclusive marketing material see:

Our Services

About Us.

For more information download our Summary Marketing Guide in pdf format Summary Guide
Or for a comprehensive list and detailed guide download our full marketing toolkit. Marketing Toolkit

Accessible facilities need to also include parks, gardens and outdoor spaces

See our comprehensive manual on outdoor accessibility and the presentation of outdoor information

Marketing Toolkit

List your property on our world wide directory.

TravAbility Properties

Marketing Toolkit

We also offer a range of Inclusive Imagery through PhotoAbility - a Stock Image Library of people with a disability in lifestyle, leisure and travel situations.

When marketing to this segment authenticity is important, All PhotoAbility images feature real models with a disability - Real People, Real Lives, Real Progress

Read our Guide to Using Disability Inclusive Imagery Effectively