Accessible tourism is a crucial aspect of the travel industry that allows people with disabilities and other accessibility needs to fully participate in tourism activities. However, this market segment is often overlooked by tour and activity operators, resulting in missed opportunities for potential customers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 1 billion people, equivalent to 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. This vast demographic represents a significant market for accessible travel experiences. In fact, the global accessible travel market is estimated to be worth over $1.3 trillion, as reported by the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT).

Despite these promising statistics, a survey conducted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed that 88% of respondents with disabilities face challenges when traveling. The biggest barriers identified were inaccessible transportation and accommodation. However, the same survey also indicated that 54% of respondents with disabilities travel with family or friends, indicating the huge potential for increased tourism if accessibility is improved.

In this article, we will explore the importance of accessible tourism, and the challenges it faces, and provide practical tips for tour and activity operators to enhance their accessibility options.

Challenges for accessibility in tourism

To tap into this growing market and create more inclusive travel experiences, it is crucial to address the challenges faced by accessible tourism.


Many destinations and tourism facilities lack the necessary infrastructure to accommodate people with disabilities. This can range from inaccessible transportation options to buildings without ramps or elevators, as well as insufficient accessible facilities like restrooms. Addressing these infrastructure gaps is fundamental to creating accessible tourism experiences.

accessible tourism challenges

Limited information

Another challenge is the limited availability of information regarding accessible tourism options. Many tourism websites lack comprehensive accessibility information, and guidebooks and brochures often do not include relevant details. This lack of information makes it difficult for people with disabilities to plan and book their trips. Ensuring that accurate and detailed accessibility information is readily available can greatly assist potential travelers in making informed decisions.

Lack of understanding

Attitudes and biases can also present challenges for accessible tourism. Some tourism providers may hold misconceptions or prejudices towards people with disabilities, resulting in discriminatory practices or a lack of understanding of their needs. It is essential to train staff members to interact with and assist customers with disabilities, ensuring they are knowledgeable about accessibility equipment, routes, and facilities.

Cost and pricing

tour pricing

Furthermore, accessible tourism options can be expensive, limiting their accessibility to people with limited financial resources. Factors such as the need for specialized equipment, retrofitting buildings and vehicles, and higher staffing costs contribute to the higher costs. Exploring strategies to reduce costs or provide financial assistance can make accessible tourism more accessible to a wider range of customers.

Lack of universal standards

The absence of universal standards for accessible tourism presents yet another challenge. With no established guidelines, tourism providers struggle to understand the requirements for meeting the needs of customers with disabilities. This inconsistency leads to varying accessibility measures across different destinations and facilities. The establishment of universal accessibility standards would help create consistent and reliable accessibility measures across the tourism industry.

6 ways tour operators can offer more accessible tours

To overcome these challenges, a coordinated effort from tourism providers, governments, and advocacy groups is necessary. By working together, significant progress can be made in improving accessibility in tourism, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the benefits of travel.

Here are some key points for tour and activity operators to consider when aiming to provide accessible tourism options:

1. Understand the needs of your customers

Take into account various accessibility needs such as mobility, visual and hearing impairments, and dietary requirements when designing your tours and activities.

2. Train your staff

Provide comprehensive training to your staff on how to interact with and assist customers with disabilities. Ensure they understand how to use accessibility equipment and are knowledgeable about accessible routes and facilities.

3. Provide accessible transportation

Consider offering accessible transportation options such as wheelchair-accessible vehicles or vans. If you are unable to provide accessible transportation, ensure that you provide information on accessible transportation options in the area.

4. Make your facilities accessible

Modify your facilities to make them accessible by providing wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, and elevators. If full accessibility is not feasible, consider offering alternative activities.

5. Provide accessible communication

Ensure that your website and marketing materials are accessible by providing alternative formats such as large print or audio descriptions. Train your staff to communicate with customers with hearing impairments through sign language or written communication.

6. Offer flexible booking and cancellation policies

Recognize that individuals with disabilities may have unique circumstances and may require flexibility in their bookings. Consider offering flexible cancellation policies or the option to reschedule without penalties to accommodate their needs.

How an online booking software can help better provide accessible tourism

In your goal of providing accessible tourism, utilizing online booking systems and distribution platforms like Rezdy can be highly beneficial. Rezdy’s online booking platform offers the ability to provide:

1. Accessibility information

Centralize accessibility information related to tours and activities displayed within your tour descriptions. Include details about accessible facilities, transportation options, and available equipment. This allows customers with accessibility needs to make informed decisions.

2. Customization options

Provide customization options and add-ons for customers with accessibility needs. For instance, allow customers to request specific equipment or services like sign language interpretation or wheelchair accessibility. By offering customization options within their bookings, you can provide tailored experiences for customers with different accessibility requirements.

3. Real-time updates

what are the requirements of passenger manifests

With automatic guest communication, you can share real-time updates about accessibility information. This ensures customers with accessibility needs have the latest information about temporary disruptions, changes in accessibility measures, or new equipment or services.

4. Reach a broader audience

Rezdy’s award-winning tour operator marketplace – Rezdy Channel Manager – allows you to market and promote your accessible tourism to a wider market. By highlighting accessibility features and customization options within your product offerings, you can reach a broader audience and attract customers with accessibility needs via resellers that may cater to accessible tourism.

The good news is that if you’re an existing Rezdy booking software customer, you’ll get instant access to Rezdy Channel Manager – the experiences industry’s largest network of resellers.

5. Analytics and feedback

Online booking systems provide valuable analytics and the ability to request feedback. This data includes the number of customers with accessibility needs, feedback on accessibility measures, and areas for improvement. By leveraging this information, tour operators can make data-driven decisions to enhance their accessible tourism offerings.

6. Easy cancellation and refund procedures

Individuals with disabilities may have unique circumstances and may require flexibility in their bookings. With an online booking system, you can streamline your cancellation processes and easily refund or generate credit that your customers can use towards their a rescheduled booking.


In conclusion, providing accessible tourism options is not only a matter of inclusivity but also makes good business sense. By understanding the needs of your customers and making necessary adjustments to your tours and activities, you can create inclusive experiences that benefit everyone. As tour and activity operators, taking steps to provide accessible tourism options ensures that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy travel and tourism activities.

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