The Access Agency

Accessible Tourism

What is it, why is it important and how is it done?

What’s all the excitement about?

The UNWTO call it a ‘exceptional business opportunity’, the EU say it will ‘boost competitiveness’ and Tourism Australia feature it heavily in their ‘Future of Demand’ report. Over in the UK, they’re on a mission to become ‘the most accessible destination in Europe by 2025’‘.

Accessible Tourism is broadly the notion of Tourism For All or Tourism Without Barriers. The principle is that tourism services and products should be open to everyone. In terms of access – yes that means ramps, toilets and parking. But it also means providing accessible information so people can make informed decisions. Inclusive tourism means enabling a holistic, universal customer experience, a philosophy of operating that welcomes everyone.


of baby boomers will be retiring with some form of disability
Open Doors Organization, 2020


of disabled travellers are likely to tell others about their experiences
The Access Survey, Euans Guide , 2019


the amount the accessible travel market is growing by year on year
Denise Broadey writing in Forbes


The overall tourism expenditure of people with disability in Australia
Accessible Tourism in Victoria and Queensland, Tourism Research Australia, National Visitor Survey, 2018.
a close up of a modern pram moving quickly along a path
a young asian male driver is transfering from his car onto a manual wheelchair
rear shot of a silver-haired couple tackling some steps in a national park, the female is using a crutch to help balance and the male is providing assistance. It's Winter and they're wear coats.
A close up of the Universal Sign for Access - it appears attached to the wall

What does it mean for organisations?

In everyday terms, it’s about improving the visitor experience both online and in-person - recognising and respecting difference, removing barriers and enhancing independence and dignity.

For operators big and small, this may mean –

  • Looking at the existing physical environment to reduce barriers
  • Reviewing printed materials and digital resources so access information is provided
  • Ensuring visitor materials are provided in an accessible format
  • Investing in quick access wins (like providing a clear path of travel)
  • Ensuring planned, new developments are accessible
  • Providing employees with the confidence to engage with different and disabled visitors
  • Marketing accessibility and inclusivity as a significant visitor benefit

To find out more, you can see a video from our presentation on Marketing Accessibility.

We’ve got some great reading in our resources section.

Smart brands will adapt to the changing demands of aging customers, the wealthiest demographic in human history.

Rich Donovan, Return on Disability

Let’s bust some myths

Most disabilities are invisible.

And most mobility problems don’t involve wheelchairs.

Barriers that stop visitors enjoying themselves are varied. They can be a result of frailty, low-vision, concentration, strength, hearing-loss, even mood.

Beach matting was originally rolled out for wheelchair users, now everyone uses it as a way to get onto the beach. Accessibility features usually come to benefit everyone.

People with disabilities (PwDs) account for more than 11% of revenue in the travel sector (Source: Tourism Research Australia ).

This is predicted to reach 25% in coming years. Twenty-five percent.

In many cases there isn’t an accessibility problem, there’s an access information problem.

By providing better information, a more inclusive customer experience and some access adjustments, destinations can make customers with disabilities feel welcomed and valued.

Also, when you do invest in physical spaces, every dollar spent returns $30 when investing in Universal Design (Source: City Of Melboune).

$AUD10BN per year.
That’s the value of this segment to the Australian economy. People with access needs take more than 54,000 trips per year and stay longer than able-bodied travellers. And they’re 50% more loyal than regular customers (Kantar Futures).

The market is significant in size and growing 22% year-on-year.

(Source: Forbes Magazine & Tourism Research Australia)

What’s accessible for one person may not be for another.

And there’s certainly no such thing as 100% accessible.
Destinations can begin by having an audit conducted and illustrating what they have in place – allowing visitors to decide for themselves if it’s ‘accessible’.

People with access needs and disabilities stay longer1, they travel in groups2 and they’re very loyal3.
In short, they’re fantastic customers.
But they’re not getting what they need to travel well.

  1. 1 - According to the Austrade report on Accessible Travel.
  2. 2 - People with access need travel with family members, friends and sometimes support workers. Travel parties consist of an average 3.2 people.
  3. 3 - Once travellers find experiences that suit their needs, they return. (They’re 50% more loyal according to Kantar Futures.)

Ready to help customers visit better? Ready to increase visitation with better access?

Contact us for a chat today