“… what we are describing in talking about Inclusive Tourism is an environment where people of all abilities are felt welcome and wanted as customers and guests.” – Bill Forrester, Travability


Accessible Tourism suggests physical access, wheelchair accessible toilets, and ramps, and related to compliance with regulations. Inclusive Tourism starts there, and adds compassion, an understanding and a welcome.

It is not asking for the world to become wheelchair accessible, but to raise awareness of the needs of people with mobility issues, those with imperfect vision and hearing, or an intellectual or mental disability.

For this exercise we have presumed all these are a disability, even if it’s caused by aging, and our guests don’t identify as being a person with a disability. We should reflect on the reality that we will all be disabled one day, some from birth, some caused by “accident”, through illness or eventually old age will catch the rest of us, and that even mothers with prams are “disabled” when confronted by a flight of steps.

The growth of the Inclusive Tourism market is driven by:

  • The world’s ageing population
  • Retiring and cashed up Baby Boomer generation
  • New technologies opening up greater opportunities for people with disabilities
  • A changing perception of the soft adventure market
  • 18% of Australians have a disability. Of the other 82% who are able bodied, another 20% suffer from long-term health issues. This equates to 35% of the Australian population.
  • The average travel group size for people with a disability in Australia is: people for a domestic overnight trip 3.4 people for a day trip.

If one member of that travel group isn’t able to access an activity, a restaurant, a shop or an accommodation facility, then generally the entire group will go elsewhere.

Here is some startling data from the 2012 Australian Bureau of Statistics:

  • 40% of 65 year olds have some form of disability
  • 50% of 75 year olds have some form of disability
  • 75% of 85 year olds have some form of disability

Of every person who has lived to be 65 from the beginning of recorded history, two-thirds are alive today.

The sectors of Eco(nomic) Tourism, Eco(logical) Tourism, Enviro(nmental) Tourism, Adventure Tourism, even Volunteering Tourism, and Restoration Tourism are brands which attract tourists to particular aspects of the destination.

Inclusive Tourism is unique as it is about the social inclusion of people who are effectively excluded from participating in any form of tourism, including of course those listed above. Inclusive Tourism opens the door for a significant and growing percentage of the population, so it effectively increases the size of the pie available for the overall market.