31 Jul

ABTA launches updated Accessible Tourism training for the travel industry

ABTA has launched a refreshed version of its Accessible Tourism e-learning tool; an online tool developed to help staff working in the travel industry build on their knowledge of accessible tourism and meet customer needs.

Developed in consultation with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the online tool incorporates updated guidance in accordance with new regulations such as the Package Travel Regulations and GDPR, and reflects amendments following the 2010 Equality Act. It also offers support on a range of accessibility issues in connection to the travel industry, including overcoming fear of asking the wrong questions, non-visible disabilities, legal obligations and how to handle complaints. A number of case studies from ABTA Members are also included to offer real life examples.

There are almost 14 million disabled people in the UK. With an ageing population and increase in disabilities in the over 50s, this looks set to increase further. The updated training supports industry staff in dealing with any issues related to disability equality and awareness; such as people with reduced mobility and those with hearing, sight, cognitive, or intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, older people and people with temporary disabilities.

ABTA’s aim is to enable travel industry staff – from travel agent staff to tour operator representatives based in resort – to have the knowledge and confidence to offer consistent, considered and clear information at each step of a holiday, from booking to when in resort.

The training is the latest course to be introduced on ABTA’s Knowledge Zone, an e-learning portal which is part of ABTA’s commitment to keeping its Members informed about key industry issues and to support on-going learning and career development. 

The refreshed e-learning, called ‘Accessible Tourism – understanding customer needs’, has two courses:

  • The first course, ‘For everyone: demystifying accessibility’, is intended for all travel industry staff and offers an introduction to accessible tourism. It provides a broad overview of what staff need to know about improving service, for example being aware of access requirements and potential issues, and meeting customer needs.
  • The second, ‘Inclusive travel: making business sense’, aimed at senior staff, helps travel businesses decide what changes to make to become a more suitable proposition for the accessible tourism market. The spending power of these households - 'the purple pound' – has been calculated at almost £250 billion and businesses are losing an estimated £1.8 billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled customers. It will help travel businesses adapt practices to potentially attract new business and will also advise on how to train staff to provide good customer service and feel confident about the law.

ABTA has been taking an active role in making tourism more accessible. In addition to the refreshed online training, it also offers practical guides, checklists and guidance – all available for free to ABTA Members via the Memberzone.

The online training will be free to ABTA Members and at a discounted rate to ABTA Partners. Non-Members can purchase the training tool for £29 per user via the ABTA shop, with discounts available when purchasing for more than 10 users.

Nikki White, ABTA Director of Destinations and Sustainability comments:

“Disabled customers should receive the same service and treatment as any other customer. There are many commonly held misconceptions, and for many people, one of the biggest obstacles they face is the lack of awareness of wider society. Training staff on disability awareness can encourage the right attitudes and give your staff the confidence to maintain your customers dignity. This is true in all sectors. For example, 75% of disabled people have decided not to make a purchase due to poor disability awareness.1

“Travel industry staff have a real opportunity to make a difference to many customers, as people are more likely to travel if they are confident their needs can be met. The industry needs to be able to provide this confidence through better awareness and consistency in their service at each stage of the customer journey. Making people aware of the need to pre-notify and passing information down the chain to different teams are two such areas that are particularly important.

“Accessible tourism cuts across many parts of a business, and ABTA and our Members are addressing the barriers to this. Anyone who has completed this training before will find it helpful to do the updated course, which takes account of new developments in this area.”

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

“To be able to live independently and participate in the community, it’s crucial that disabled people can easily access transport. We hope that all staff working in the travel industry make use of this training to increase their awareness of the needs of disabled passengers, tackle barriers that restrict choice and autonomy for disabled people and provide a seamless end-to-end travel experience for all.”


1 Figures sourced from ‘Walkaway Pound Report’: Extra Costs Commission/Business Disability Forum/Scope, 2015.