Last November 11-13, 2019, the first-ever TravelAbility Summit bringing travel industry and innovations in travel accessibility for individuals with disabilities commenced at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. Conference organizer, Jake Steinman, says that the primary goal of the summit is “Make destinations accessible to everyone.”
The North American Journeys, the company which initiated the TravelAbility Summit specializes in “boutique” conferences and media for the tour and travel industry.
The objective of the TravelAbility Summit is to assist attendees in becoming well-equipped to handle accessible travel. Furthermore, the conference aims to introduce the latest innovations and best practices currently in use, as well as a better understanding of the challenges that face travelers with disabilities. Lastly, the conference will focus on changing the perception of accessibility travel.
“Travelers with a disability represent an underserved but growing segment of the population that has been neglected by the mainstream tour and travel industry,” Steinman says. “The travel industry has a huge opportunity and responsibility to help make travel more accessible. And the time to act is now.”
Furthermore, Mr. Steinman added that a recent study estimates the value of the disability travel market at $17 billion dollars annually. Meanwhile, statistics from CDC show that the number of Americans with a disability is a quarter of the nation’s population.
To help define the market opportunity, the TravelAbility Summit issued its first in a series of Travel Accessibility Insights. “Top 10 Signs Accessibility is Going Mainstream in Travel—and in Life.” Take a look at the list below:
- Requests for wheelchairs at airports grew 30% from 2016 to 2017. Moreover, these have averaged 17% each year since 2015, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
- According to AARP research, over the next 20 years, 75 million Baby Boomers will be aging into a disability.
- This Christmas, Mattel will debut a doll with a prosthetic leg and another with a wheelchair.
- A strong Travel Weekly survey found that travel agents in one European country alone experienced a 50% increase in inquiries about wheelchair-accessible travel experiences.
- The Brussels Airport is reporting positive results after employing six people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to work as x-ray screeners as part of a pilot project.
- Over 20,000 travel agents in the US have taken undergone a one-hour basic Autism awareness/response training sessions through IBCCES. Furthermore, another 5,000 travel have been trained by Special Needs Group on accessible wheelchair travel.
- The TravelAbility research team has identified over 50 technologies, Apps and products that make navigation and traveling more accessible.
- Since launching its Adaptive Clothing line in 2018, Tommy Hilfiger has expanded the collection from children’s clothing to a full adult line.
- The Skift Global Forum included its first accessible travel presentation, “Accessibility: What’s It Worth”. The organization is also the leading trend-forecasting conference in the travel industry.
- Trick or Treat: Target is introducing a line of “adaptive” costumes for Halloween.
The TravelAbility Summit will open with a special LaunchPad session from 2:00pm to 5:00pm PT. The conference featured products, services and apps developed to make travel easier for people with disabilities. Furthermore, two full-day sessions of insightful workshops, panels, and networking opportunities will take place on November 12 and 13.
For more information about the conference and to view the conference agenda, please visit www.TravelAbilitySummit.com.