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Report maps out inclusive travel after 2020

Posted: 8th December 2020

International pan-disability charity Leonard Cheshire and Expedia Group, one of the world’s largest online travel agencies, have worked together to create a roadmap for the travel industry to be more inclusive.

The two organisations commissioned ‘Breaking Down Barriers to Travel’, released today (8 December). It calls on the travel industry to be more inclusive of disabled people. Reflecting Expedia Group’s mission statement, the aim is to enable travel companies to ‘put the world within reach’.

Travel plans may be on hold for many in 2020, but the report makes the case for resuming activity in a more inclusive way after the pandemic.

The report recommends four wide-ranging approaches to ensure travel is inclusive.  These are based on interviews with disabled travellers and examples of best practice at travel services. The latter includes hoteliers, airlines, travel agents and, in one case, a provider of inclusive adventure holidays in New Zealand.

The recommendations are:

  • design experiences (such as using an airport or hotel) to be barrier-free,
  • make all information clear,
  • provide inclusive customer service,
  • include disabled people in design and decision-making.

Providers are already taking on the challenge, such as Marriott International. Marriott International worked with disabled travellers to review the design of accessible hotel rooms. It instituted a new minimum height for beds at more than 200 hotels around the world as part of their ‘Room For All’ initiative.

Verity Ayling-Smith, Training and Consultancy Advisor at Leonard Cheshire, authored the report. Verity said: “2020 has been a difficult year for the travel industry. It is important for providers to be open to the widest possible group when the world emerges from lockdown.

“We wanted to not only provide a roadmap to the travel industry to make its experiences more inclusive but celebrate the fantastic work of travel providers across the industry already committing to inclusive and innovative practice. We hope that our report gives providers the information and inspiration they need for their inclusion journey. We greatly appreciate Expedia Group’s role in taking the lead in educating the rest of the sector.”

Michael Davis Velasco, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer, Expedia Group, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Leonard Cheshire and highlight the current state of and the opportunities for, inclusion and accessibility within the travel industry for travellers with disabilities.

“At Expedia Group we believe that travel has the power to change lives; that it opens minds and drives better understanding between all people.  We know that travel isn’t always easy, but by sharing insights and best practices believe that together with our partner and peers, we have the opportunity and responsibility to create frictionless travel for people with disabilities.”

The report is available to read here.

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