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Traveling is an experience that people look forward to taking part in and the world is full of destinations that offer unique and memorable experiences. Unfortunately, when not all travelers are able to make it to their desired destination, the number of people who are unable to act as their own travel agent is alarming.The pandemic has affected everyone differently, but people with disabilities have been hit the hardest: Many were at high risk of complications or death from COVID-19 and therefore endured the longest periods of social isolation and sometimes limited use of some medical services for fear of contracting the virus.
About 61 million Americans live with some form of disability, and according to Open Doors, 27 million of them earned $58.7 billion from travel in 2018 and 2019, suggesting that they play a vital role in the travel economy, even though many are still underrepresented, under-served, or afraid to travel for any reason.
In April, the World Travel and Tourism Council published new guidelines to help travel and tourism companies become accessible to and accommodating of people with disabilities. This includes staff training on disability issues and the inclusion of accessibility information and facilities on websites and booking systems.
However, there is one travel company that has put people with disabilities at the center of its efforts.
With Wheel the World you can travel around the world, from popular adventure destinations like Machu Picchu to the most beautiful cities in Europe. The site offers recommendations for hotels, tours and multi-day excursions that you can customize to suit your needs.
The travel company recently revamped its website to provide a more user-friendly experience and more content. Customers can fill out an accessibility profile to receive personalized recommendations to help them find what they need.
When the pandemic broke out, we had to return all booked tickets, which is difficult not only from a business standpoint, but also from a personal standpoint: Our travelers have had to postpone trips they were looking forward to. It was heartbreaking for us and for them, says Camilo Navarro, co-founder and COO of Wheel the World. We quickly adapted: We have adjusted our priorities and focused on creating a wider range of offerings. Each of the data sheets on our site contains very specific information regarding the availability and safety precautions for COVID-19.
On a specific hotel page, for example, guests will find everything they need to consider when looking for accommodation, from the height of wall switches to the presence or absence of crossbars in bathrooms and the width of doors. In addition, a special section on each accommodation or tour page lists the health and safety measures taken to ensure greater safety.
We definitely see a more accessible world in the future: This means that there will be more hotels and travel service providers with better standards of accessibility and training. If you think about it, a billion people have disabilities today. We’re talking about the 15 percent of the world’s population that is underserved today, Navarro said. At the same time, the travel industry has a huge opportunity to become more accessible and inclusive, to make the fifteen percent… At the Wheel of Peace, we are working hard to promote more inclusive travel in the future.
Visit Peace Wheel’s revamped website, follow Peace Wheel on Instagram, Twitter @WheeltheWorld, Facebook or YouTube.
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