We have many clients with a disability in the sense that most of them are elderly as religious tourism is often opted by people in their old age, hence the workshop was impactful to learn about catering to them in a better way.Noshaba Shehzad, CEO Jayana Travel
The travel industry stands as a pivotal force in the facilitation of human mobility, cultural exchange, and the dissemination of ideas, contributing significantly to our shared humanity. While numerous user-friendly online booking platforms empower individual travelers, travel agents and companies play a paramount role in alleviating the complexities associated with group travel, managing bookings comprehensively. On top of this organizing inclusive and disabled friendly travel is another skill-set that can be mastered to cater to a large population.
Acknowledging the indispensable role of travel agents, regarded as modern-day superheroes, Iwish Ventures organized a capacity building workshop in Lahore, Pakistan. This initiative marks the inaugural event in a series of workshops planned for 2024 for the travel industry in Pakistan to connect travelers with a disability with a seamless and comfortable travel experience. The primary objective is to elevate the capabilities and awareness of travel agents in catering to diverse needs, particularly focusing on the inclusion of disabled clients.
As of 2023, the global disabled population is estimated to be 1.6 billion or 16% of the world population. (WHO) Considering this, it is projected that Pakistan may have a population up to 27 million living with a disability, with its own unique demographic and will see a significant increase in the disabled population, compounded by a growing elderly demographic, projected to reach 2.1 billion by the year 2050, as per [WHO]. The imperative for the travel industry to adapt and prepare for these evolving markets cannot be overstated, making accessibility education in this space both essential and urgent.
The workshop adopted a distinctive methodology, recognizing that travel is an experiential endeavor. Participants were initially briefed on disability models, challenges, and opportunities, followed by an engaging session involving the board game, Woopie Town. This innovative game is designed to immerse players in a gamified experience that fosters understanding and empathy towards disability. A subsequent debrief session encouraged participants to share their insights and experiences, fostering a collective understanding of integrating inclusive policies into their professional domains. Noshaba Shehzad who runs a travel agency by the name, Jayana Travel for religious travel shared that, ‘We have many clients with a disability in the sense that most of them are elderly as religious tourism is often opted by people in their old age, hence the workshop was impactful to learn about catering to them in a better way’
Tailored to benefit travel agents, hoteliers, airline staff members, and group travel facilitators, the workshop equips participants with the knowledge and skills needed to address the specific needs of travelers with disabilities. The comprehensive training encompasses areas such as handling disabled clients, tapping into untapped disabled populations, establishing disability and accessibility partnerships, mastering sales and marketing strategies for inclusive markets, and enhancing digital visibility to engage clients with disabilities.
In essence, this workshop serves as a strategic investment in preparing the travel industry for the demands of future markets, ensuring accessibility and inclusivity are integral components of its offerings.
Iwish Venture is a company bridging companies with disabled and disadvantaged populations through inclusive solutions, training, films, media and product development. It is headquartered in Pakistan and Sweden and provides services globally.
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