Accessible tourism in Nigeria: A multibillion dollar untapped goldmine

Accessible tourism in Nigeria: A multibillion dollar untapped goldmine

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Accessible travel, also known as inclusive travel, disability travel, barrier free travel and access free travel, remains the travel industry’s greatest untapped goldmine.
There are millions of people worldwide looking for accessible travel options. The demand will continue to grow due to demographic aging. In short, accessible tourism means everyone can enjoy travelling.
According to a report, the market for accessible tourism is big but remains silent and a goldmine waiting to be tapped. Around one in every five people has a disability. Around 88 per cent of people with disability take a holiday each year.
For instance, the USA Open Doors Organisation estimates that US $17.3 billion is spent by adults with disability on travel each year. In Australia, about eight billion dollars a year is spent by travellers with disabilities. Almost 12 percent of the European market is dedicated to people with disabilities.
Bill Forrester, in his Travelability blog, wrote, “Accessible tourism is no longer about building ramps and accessible bathrooms. It’s about building products and services for a larger and rapidly growing market. This is no longer a niche, but rather, a segment that is approaching 25 per cent of total tourism spend.”
In her own view, Chikezie Chidinma of Peak Travel and Tours, Lagos, stated that people with disability, when they travel, are likely going to spend more time on the trips.
She said, “Indeed, people travelling with disability are more likely to spend longer time. What we need do as a country willing to tap into the enormous economic potentials of this aspect of tourism is to provide a great product for them.
“As a matter of fact, accessible tourists are more likely to be loyal and good marketers for one business if they enjoyed their trips. They are going to pass the word around through praise singing. That is a plus for any business when they tell people how well they enjoyed their trips.
“Disabilities have nothing to do with passion for travel. Let me tell you this, one out of 10 tourists has one form of disability or the other. The fact is that the disability may not be too obvious. Let me give you an example, what about people that find it hard to see or hear, are they not having a disability? Would they discuss that with you?” she added.
But the readiness of Nigeria to tap into this goldmine was cast in doubt as Prince Fatoyinbo Babatunde, a travel consultant based in Abuja, in a telephone chat, said, “You are not talking about ablebodied men tourism, how much has Nigeria done with that?”
“I quite agree that it is truly a goldmine, which can be tapped into and can also help turn around the economy due to its multiplier effect. But the nation’s readiness to exploit this is in doubt because the system is not too favourable to this aspect of tourism. Who will take care of them while on tour? Does the site to be visited have facilities for them? The packages tour operators can do for them are outward bounds, which to me is also a leak to our economy.” He added that domestic tourism would have grown if we have tapped into this goldmine in Nigeria. He said, “It is an aspect of tourism that is rapidly growing globally. And it is important that we tap quickly into it.”

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