Disabled customers are not confident of receiving accurate information about accessibility when booking holidays with a travel agent.
A survey conducted by Accessible Travel and Leisure of 500 clients or prospective clients who have reduced mobility, or would be travelling with someone with reduced mobility, revealed 91% said accessibility of the accommodation and facilities was very important or important.
However, respondents were concerned about the lack of information provided. Many had arrived at resort on previous holidays to find they could not access a hotel, use transport to a resort or even use a toilet. Airlines were highlighted as the "weakest link in the chain" according to ATL managing director Andy Wright.
He said that airlines are a "law unto themselves" because they are exempt from the Disability Discrimination Act. Problems including embarkation/disembarkation, appropriate seating and inaccessible toilets were some of the major issues raised.
The majority of those surveyed take one or two holidays a year, with 16% taking between three and four. It was found that 19% do not holiday overseas at all.
A majority of 33% take a holiday of seven nights or fewer. Just over 60% travel with a partner and 12% go with other family members. Almost half of disabled holidaymakers spend between £500 and £1000 on their holiday, while 10% spend more than £1,500. Cruising was the favourite holiday type at 17%, with city breaks coming in at only 5% due to the impracticality of flying with low-cost airlines.
Out of 10 million disabled people in the UK, only 2.5 million travel regularly.
Wright said: "People with disabilities have had to endure second-class service and facilities for far too long. They have had to put up with inferior service, lack of facilities and a lack of understanding of their needs. This is no way to treat a large sector of the UK."
"If 2.5 million disabled people are known to travel, what about the remainder? This is an opportunity not to be ignored by the travel industry."
Wright added: "This survey highlights issues related to the disabled market and is a wake-up call for the travel industry."
Travel Weekly, 19th February 2009