Eighteen months ago, one of my best friends was diagnosed with a life-limiting disease and was rapidly confined to a wheelchair.
His world was suddenly turned upside down as his house was adapted and his wife and two young children learnt to cope with his disabilities. With time now so precious, they were keen to go on a family holiday, but found it impossible to find a travel company that could guarantee to meet all his needs. Consequently, they haven’t been away since his diagnosis and, as his condition deteriorates, they are unlikely to do so.
This is just one story, but there will be thousands like it. Two weeks ago, World Travel Market chairman Fiona Jeffery said people with mobility issues or disabilities were “neglected” by the travel industry, a failing that she vowed to tackle at this year’s WTM. This week, The Travel Network Group, which describes the disabled market as “large and growing”, launches a disabled travel franchise scheme to better serve this huge market of potential travellers.
Last year, The Co-operative Travel won an innovation award for its new Disabled Travel Charter, so it seems the issue is being addressed. Some would argue this should have happened years ago, but at least concerted efforts are being made by some, and pledges to raise awareness are being made by others.
Thomson’s current advert extols the virtues of a holiday as giving us the precious time to spend with our loved ones without interruptions of everyday life – and that’s true for disabled holidaymakers as well as able-bodied ones. In fact, in the case of my friend, even more so.
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