By 2025 a quarter of the tourism market will have accessibility needs. Already, one in five people in the UK live with either a disability or a health condition which affects how and where they choose to spend their leisure time. Here is some advice for tourism marketers looking to highlight their accessible offering to this market.

While there are obvious moral and legal reasons to improve accessibility, there are also strong commercial reasons (which are often, sadly, the fastest way to drive change). It’s believed that the accessible tourism market in the UK is worth around £12 billion annually, and there is huge growth potential in the market, with demand outstripping the current supply. Promoting your accessible offering can lead to increased visits, repeat business, an enhanced reputation and a competitive advantage.

In 2015, £2 billion was spent in the UK on trips where a member of the party has an impairment. These groups have also been shown to stay longer (3.3 days vs 2.9 days) and spend more (£210 vs £199). The choice of where a family holidays or where a wedding is held may come down to the requirements of one person.

The Challenge

When it comes to putting together a strategy for marketing to people with accessibility needs, you may worry about your lack of understanding or about getting it wrong. But, if you stop to think about it, you probably already know someone with accessibility needs.

Accessibility is not just a challenge for people in wheelchairs. At some point in their lives, most people will have accessibility needs of some kind, whether it’s travelling with young children, pregnancy, illness or old age. It is estimated that by 2040 one in seven in the UK population will be aged 75 or over, and with ageing comes an increased chance of poor eyesight, mobility impairments and hearing loss.

Globally 1 billion people have accessibility needs in some form, but 50% of these people don’t travel for two reasons:

  1. They don’t have the information they need
  2. They fear something going wrong when travelling

There are three pillars of accessible tourism: physical facilities, customer service and promotion. You may not have direct control over the premises or customer service, but you can provide the right information and promote it to the right people.

Two Steps to Successful Accessible Tourism Marketing

Successful accessibility marketing comes down to providing as much information as possible and making sure that it reaches the people who need it.

1. Provide the right information
When potential visitors are planning their next trip, they need as much information as possible to help them understand if your attraction or destination will meet their needs. The information you provide should be accurate, easy to find, up-to-date and uncomplicated.


2. Promote your offering
Reaching the right audiences can be difficult. My experience is that digital advertising, email marketing and digital ‘word of mouth’ are the most effective ways to promote yourself online.

Moving the the right direction

Most organisations in the tourism industry have a lot of work to do in order to make their spaces truly accessible for all. But that shouldn’t put you off! The key is to get started and focus on what you CAN do. If you’re looking for help with our digital marketing, get in touch. We’re specialists in travel and tourism and we provide digital marketing services to organisations across the sector.