COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Disability group insists holiday firms obey law

A consortium of eight disability charities is demanding that travel operators start facing up to their legal responsibility to provide accessible holidays for people with disabilities.

The Holidays for All group is launching a campaign to remind the travel industry of its legal obligation to provide fully accessible and inclusive holidays after the Disability Discrimination Act comes into force in October.

The charities, which include Action for Blind People, Holidays with Help and Leonard Cheshire, claim that 4 million people in the UK will be unable to take a holiday this year because of poor transport access, inaccessible holiday accommodation and a lack of suitable leisure facilities.

It is campaigning for holiday operators to start factoring the needs of disabled people into holiday packages and to work with the Holidays for All consortium to create specialist services for people with different types of disability.

Tim Gardiner, Holidays for All spokesman and head of the hotels division at Arthritis Care, said the charities want to send a clear message that they will continue to put pressure on the travel industry until every tour operator complies with the new law.

"This year is a huge year for disabled people, and we're determined to help them gain access to better leisure and tourism services that will make a real difference to the 47 per cent of disabled people who feel they're unable to take a holiday," he said.

The consortium will also offer training and consultancy services to travel companies.

"We recognise that a lot of companies don't understand that it's not just about putting in the odd wheelchair ramp, it's also about investing in staff training and running programmes to change people's mindsets about disability," said Gardiner.

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