This article comprises the talk that Bill Forrester, founder of accessible travel agency and tour operator TravAbility and deadpan sarcastic awesome Aussie dude, gave at the SATH congress. The numbers he provides tend to be for Australia and New Zealand.
Those numbers don’t include all of us with hidden disabilities. Imagine adding folks with diabetes, arthritis, fibro, endo, Crohn’s, etc–there are hundreds of millions of us to add to these lists. And many of us work, earn good money even in the Great Recession, and possess discretionary income we’d like to spend on travel. That calculates out to billions of dollars we can/should/do pump into the travel industry each year.
I couldn’t agree with Bill more, and that’s why I’m writing The Imperfect Traveler’s Guides and starting The Imperfect Traveler* as a for-profit business. It’s my unshakeable belief that we who are the hiddenly disabled community have places to go, people to meet, and money to spend. When I start speaking to groups of mainstream travel agents, tour operators, and hoteliers, the first thing I’m going to emphasize to them is the bottom line. Hiddenly disabled travelers can increase their profit margins, period. And the better they take care of us, the more likely we are to return to them, becoming regular repeat customers.
What do you think? If you’ve got money, do you want to spend it traveling? If you don’t have money now but get your hands on some, would you spend some of it on traveling?