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Special Needs/Accessible Travel Segment Now a Mainstream Market; Travel Professionals With Accessible Travel Training Have Advantage

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Accessible Travel is the Fastest-Growing Segment in Travel as Baby Boomers Retire, Number of Individuals with Special Needs Increase

Dania Beach, FL – As the Baby Boomer generation has started to retire and will continue to over the next 20 years, and the number of individuals with special needs continues to increase, the accessible travel segment is taking the travel industry by storm and will only continue to grow. In fact, it is the fastest-growing segment in the travel industry. This once-considered niche market is now very much mainstream. Therefore, it is more important than ever for travel professionals to have the knowledge, skills, and communication abilities to tap into the accessible market.

Twenty percent (63 million) of Americans have a disability, and approximately 10 million aged 15 and older use a walking aid such as a cane or walker. This group may include many “slow walker” individuals who don’t consider themselves disabled, but who could benefit from special needs products and services.

Studies show that 24 million disabled Americans would travel or travel more frequently if their special needs were met.

Supporting the fact that the accessible travel segment is now a mainstream market:

  • Each year for the next 20 years, 4 million Baby Boomers will turn 65 in the U.S. alone.
  • Between 2006 and 2016 in the U.S., the age 50+ population will have grown by 22 million; the age 18-49 population will have grown by 1 million.
  • Over 40 percent of Baby Boomers will be retiring with some form of disability, raising the total value of the accessible travel segment to over 25 percent of the travel market by 2020.
  • In 2009, households headed by adults aged 65 and older … had 47 times as much net wealth as the typical household headed by someone under 35 years of age.
  • By 2015, the Baby Boomer generation will command 60 percent of net U.S. wealth and 40 percent of spending.

“The accessible travel segment will continue to grow considerably over the next few decades, and it’s imperative that travel professionals be prepared to accommodate travelers with special needs,” said Andrew Garnett, president and CEO of Special Needs Group. “Having the knowledge of how to work with and cater to this segment will not only benefit travel professionals’ businesses, but it will help them to deliver an accessible world.”

Special Needs Group’s powerful online Accessible Travel Advocate course, launched in November 2011, is the travel industry’s first eLearning curriculum that allows travel professionals to become conversant with the accessible travel market segment through online study and testing. The one-hour, three-module program objectives focus on understanding accessible travel, building expertise in accessible travel and demonstrating accessible travel advocacy skills. These are critical subject matter areas for travel professionals if they wish to service the accessible travel market. Upon completing the course, travel professionals receive the SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate™ certification, which qualifies for five CLIA Certification Credits.

For more information about the SNG Certified Accessible Travel Advocate program, SNG Travel Agent Affiliate Program and the SNG Resource Center, please call 1-800-513-4515 or visit

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