WTM London 2017: Is Luxury Travel Becoming More Accessible?
WTM London 2017 has been and gone, and details exchanged with companies whom I'd like to blog about their services. However, during WTM I was on a mission of my own, to find out if luxury travel was finally becoming more accessible, or if there is still the old age problem of 'no, we're not accessible, goodbye.'
You see one of the biggest criteria for me even blogging about a hotel, airline, tour operator etc is that they have to have some sort of accessibility. That may shock you when I say some sort, but here's the thing. If you're going to a country where the accessibility laws are not to the standards of the European laws (and we all know that they are pretty shocking), you have to go with a slightly open mind. Accessibility for me is about finding solutions. Whether that be ramps to help navigate steeper areas of a resort, hoists to help passengers on aircraft transfer into seats, or a safe way of helping a wheelchair user up/down stairs when a lift isn't working, to be accessible to all, you have to be open to solutions, and to be able to look a things from several different perspectives.
As a wheelchair user, one of the biggest things for me is that I need space to move, and ease of access. In hotel rooms, that often means staying in Junior Suites and above, on long haul journeys, it's upgrading to business or first class in order to be able to do my pressure relief in comfort, as well as having the ability to be out of my chair in comfort. The thing you guys may have noticed if you've read any of my other posts, is that where there isn't an accessible solution in place, I'll make myself a solution. I'm lucky I have the upper body strength to do that, but there are others with special needs whom don't have that solution available to them. A person with a visual or hearing impairment needs help in other ways, and it was nice to see on my flight with British Airways, the flight attendants help a visually impaired person by telling them where they'd put their drink and snack using the clock method.
I certainly think that luxury travel is slowly becoming more accessible in Europe and developed countries however, there is still more to be done, and in developing countries, the tourism boards have to make it clear that accessibility needs to be something looked at within their respective countries. Whilst at WTM, I attended a talk on accessible tourism, and one thing that Paralympian Ade Adepitan said during the talk, was that for hotels to reach 5 star standard, they should be accessible, and that accessibility should be incorporated into the star system. I wholeheartedly agree with this. Luxury/premium travel and tourism companies are the leaders in the industry, and should set the standard for everyone else to look up to when it comes to accessibility. If 5 star hotel and resorts don't, it could mean progress only being made where applicable laws force companies to have accessible products rather than doing it because they want to become more inclusive and available to tourists.