More than two billion people around the world have accessibility needs due to disability and age. And yet a new study released today by Amadeus reveals that most of their needs are not being fully catered for by either the travel industry or the public sector, so accessible travel is far from becoming something that millions of travellers can take for granted.

According to the report “Voyage of discovery: Working towards inclusive and accessible travel for all”, one of the biggest barriers to accessible travel remains inaccurate or incomplete information being available, coupled with a lack of skilled customer service. The report also shows that travellers with accessibility needs increasingly now expect these to be met as part of the mainstream service and at no extra cost. The role of technology in accessible travel is becoming more important, with specific developments such as voice recognition starting to be seen as commonplace.

The study highlights that transitioning to an accessible travel-friendly environment for all will require effective communication that facilitates access to relevant information on accessibility, and a more responsive service with properly trained staff.

Standardised content and services, the study underlines would increase consistency and ensure clarity in the type of services that any customer could expect. There is an opportunity here for a more personalised travel experience.

Finally, the research recommends further collaboration between the private and public sectors to meet the expectations of travellers with accessibility needs.

“Improving accessibility in travel means enhancing usability for all customers. Lifting barriers to travel, personalising the travel offer, using technology to further facilitate travellers’ experiences and creating more accessible infrastructure where people can navigate autonomously will benefit everybody,” elaborates Alex Luzárraga, Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Amadeus. The study included some 800 interviews with travellers with accessibility needs as well as industry experts, private-public sector representatives and international institutions. (www.amadeus.com)