Abta has refreshed its accessible tourism e-learning tool to reflect changes in regulations.

The new module incorporates updated guidance in the new Package Travel Regulations, EU GDPR data processing rules and the 2010 Equalities Act, following new amendments.

The Accessible Tourism – understanding customer needs e-learning was developed with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to help agents build on their knowledge of accessible tourism.

It also offers support on a range of accessibility issues, including overcoming fear of asking the wrong questions, non-visible disabilities, legal obligations and how to handle complaints.

Spending power in the sector  has been calculated at almost £250 billion and Abta says businesses are losing an estimated £1.8 billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled customers.

A number of case studies from Abta members are also included to offer real life examples.

Abta said there are almost 14 million disabled people in the UK and with an ageing population and increase in disabilities in the over 50s, this looks set to increase further.

The association aims to enable travel industry staff  to have the knowledge and confidence to offer consistent, considered and clear information from booking to when clients are in resort.

Nikki White, Abta director of destinations and sustainability, said: “Disabled customers should receive the same service and treatment as any other customer.

“There are many commonly held misconceptions, and for many people, one of the biggest obstacles they face is the lack of awareness of wider society. Training staff on disability awareness can encourage the right attitudes and give your staff the confidence to maintain your customers dignity.

“This is true in all sectors. For example, 75% of disabled people have decided not to make a purchase due to poor disability awareness.

“Travel industry staff have a real opportunity to make a difference to many customers, as people are more likely to travel if they are confident their needs can be met.

“The industry needs to be able to provide this confidence through better awareness and consistency in their service at each stage of the customer journey.

“Making people aware of the need to pre-notify and passing information down the chain to different teams are two such areas that are particularly important.

“Accessible tourism cuts across many parts of a business, and Abta and our members are addressing the barriers to this.

“Anyone who has completed this training before will find it helpful to do the updated course, which takes account of new developments in this area.”

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive at the equality and human rights commission, said: “To be able to live independently and participate in the community, it’s crucial that disabled people can easily access transport.

“We hope that all staff working in the travel industry make use of this training to increase their awareness of the needs of disabled passengers, tackle barriers that restrict choice and autonomy for disabled people and provide a seamless end-to-end travel experience for all.”

The accessible travel training is the latest course to be introduced on Abta’s Knowledge Zone, an e-learning portal which is part of the association’s commitment to keeping its members informed about key industry issues and to support on-going learning and career development.

The refreshed e-learning has two parts:

The first course: ‘For everyone: demystifying accessibility’, is intended for all travel industry staff and offers an introduction to accessible tourism.

It provides a broad overview of what staff need to know about improving service, for example being aware of access requirements and potential issues, and meeting customer needs.

The second: ‘Inclusive travel: making business sense’, is aimed at senior staff and helps travel businesses decide what changes to make to become a more suitable proposition for the accessible tourism market.

The online training will be free to Abta members and at a discounted rate to Abta partners.

Non-Members can purchase the training tool for £29 per user via the Abta shop, with discounts available when purchasing for more than ten users.

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