The World Health Organization estimates that 15% of the global population, roughly 1 billion people, live with some form of disability. (World Disability Raport) An estimated 450 million people worldwide have a mental impairment. At any given time, approx 10% of adults are experiencing a current mental impairment, and 25% will develop one at some point during their lifetimes. Mental impairments are found in all countries, in women and men, at all stages of life. Mental impairments account for 13% of the global burden of disease, and this figure will rise to nearly 15% by 2030. (WHO 2009)
Going back to disability we can say that many disabled people do not have equal access to health care, education, and employment opportunities, do not receive the disability-related services that they require, and experience exclusion from everyday life activities. (World Disability Raport) A person’s environment has a huge impact on the experience and extent of disability. Inaccessible environments create disability by creating barriers to participation and inclusion. (World Report on Disability) This problem includes all fields in society and tourism too.
The European Disability Forum (EDF) says that tourism is an important source of growth for the economy in Europe. However, travelling can still be a real challenge for persons with disabilities as finding information on services, or checking luggage on a plane etc. EDF wants to raise awareness that everybody has the right to have equal access to tourism services. (European Disability Forum) Taking Europe as an example, the accessible tourism market has been estimated at approximately 27% of the total population and 12% of the tourism market. These figures consider the large proportion of senior travellers, people with disabilities and families with small children. The accessible travel market presents a golden opportunity for destinations that are ready to receive these visitors, since they tend to travel more frequently during the low season, usually accompanied or in groups, make more return visits and, in some parts of the world, they spend more than average on their trips.
Facilitating travel for people with disabilities is therefore not only a human rights imperative, but also an exceptional business opportunity. Yet, a change in mind-set and in the model of tourism services provision is needed in order to meet this major market demand. Supported by previous information tackles this project problems related with accessibility of tourism for mentally impaired people.