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Lodging and transportation accessibility are the two biggest barriers to travel for Americans with mobility disabilities

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Airlines losing or damaging wheelchairs and inaccessible hotel bathrooms and beds among common issues encountered.

KANSAS CITY, MO – MMGY Global released a new research report, Portrait of Travelers with Disabilities: Mobility and Accessibility, which it hopes will act as a call to action for every industry so they can better understand and meet the needs of the millions of people who use mobility aids, as well as their traveling companions. The survey found lodging and transportation accessibility are cited as the two biggest barriers to travel for those with mobility issues. Nearly all respondents (96%) say they have faced an accommodation problem while traveling, while 86% have experienced flight problems and 79% have experienced in-market transportation problems.

The ability to have access to the same experiences as travelers without disabilities should be a priority across the hospitality, travel and tourism industries, as travelers with mobility disabilities spend $58.2 billion per year on travel. They are going on leisure trips with nearly the same frequency as those without mobility issues, taking an average of 3.4 trips in the past 12 months and spending an average of $3,546 on leisure travel during that time frame. 

The challenges for this group are very real and are found at every step of the travel-planning process and journey, according to the following highlights from the survey of more than 2,700 Americans with mobility disabilities and their caregivers and companions.

Transportation

  • Four in 10 have had their mobility aid lost or damaged by an airline.
  • Six in 10 have experienced extended wait times for mobility assistance at the airport before or after their flight.

Lodging

  • More than half (54%) have been given a room at check-in that did not match the room they booked.
  • 81% have dealt with inaccessible showers or tubs, and 52% have encountered beds that were too high for them to access.

The report holds many additional important insights for destination marketing organizations. When asked how travel destinations can better attract visitors with mobility disabilities, 8 in 10 travelers cited increased information on accessibility available prior to visiting (84%); infrastructure expansion and enhanced maintenance for areas such as sidewalks, ramps and mobile lifts (83%); and the promotion of accessible lodging options by the destination (81%). These travelers also cited the importance of being able to see multiple pictures of the exact room they are booking and virtual tours of places they plan to visit to determine if there are any obstacles that could make it difficult or impossible to move around with their mobility device.

MMGY Global will be donating all proceeds from sales of the report to the United Spinal Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including veterans, to live successful and fulfilling lives.

“United Spinal is grateful for the work of MMGY Global in raising awareness on the accessibility needs of travelers with mobility disabilities. As a wheelchair user, I know firsthand the barriers our community must overcome when traveling, including damage to mobility equipment at the airport to encountering unexpected accessibility issues at hotels and other venues. Identifying these issues is critical to ensuring travel is accessible to all,” said Vincenzo Piscopo, United Spinal’s President and CEO.

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