Accessible Tourism Emerges as a Vital Growth Opportunity for Africa’s Travel Industry


(Posted 20th April 2024)


Unlocking Africa’s inclusive tourism potential was center stage at Africa Travel Week 2024. A panel illuminated the vast $1 billion+ market of travellers with disabilities eager to explore the continent.
It’s not just a social imperative, it’s a financial one,” said Tarryn Tomlinson of LiveAble, urging improved accessibility. Panelists shared challenges faced by differently-abled travellers and the need for tailored accommodations.
Success stories were highlighted, like Cape Town’s “Limitless CT” initiative with braille QR codes and audio options. “We want to appeal to all travellers,” stated Briony Brookes of the city.
With over 1 billion people worldwide living with disabilities, and numbers rising as populations age, the call to make Africa more welcoming through inclusive tourism resonated.
This vast demographic encompasses a range of visible and invisible conditions, from mobility issues to cognitive and sensory challenges. As the world’s population ages, with the number of people over 60 expected to double by 2050, the need for accessible travel is only expected to grow.
Panellists highlighted the unique challenges faced by travellers with disabilities, from a lack of
information about accessible amenities to physical barriers that limit their ability to fully enjoy
their travel experiences. “Disability doesn’t mean the same for everyone,” said Lois Strachan,
host of podcast A Different Way of Seeing. “Needs are different, and we need to engage with
them to find out what they need. Information about how you can accommodate their needs is the most important thing for travellers with disabilities.” She stated that guesthouses and hotels should incorporate this into their marketing to attract differently abled travellers.
Jabaar Mohamed, the Provincial Director for DeafSA Western Cape, shared the specific
challenges faced by deaf travellers, such as being offered wheelchairs at airports despite their
hearing impairment. “It’s important for all those that work in hospitality to be trained to ask individual travellers what their needs ae, rather than making assumptions,” he said.
Panellists shared inspiring success stories and best practices from destinations and businesses
that have embraced inclusive tourism. Briony Brookes, representing the City of Cape Town, highlighted the city’s “Limitless CT” initiative, which includes features like braille QR codes at street art and audio options on the tourism website.
We want to appeal to all travellers, not only those that are fully abled,” Brookes stated. “We’ve seen fantastic results since we made small changes to showcase how we are a welcoming and inclusive destination.”
The session concluded with a call to action for the African tourism industry to recognise the
significant opportunities presented by the accessible travel market and to work towards making
the continent a more inclusive and welcoming destination for all.

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