Disability charity Revitalise has predicted that Airbnb’s recent acquisition of Accomable will lead to an “industry shift in attitudes” towards disabled travellers and the revenue they contribute in the tourism sector.
The homesharing platform company recently bought the travel startup, which is valued at $31m (£23.3m), for an undisclosed sum. Accomable is a platform designed to help disabled travellers find accessible hotels, vacation rentals and apartments.
By 2020, as much as 25% of tourism spending in Europe is expected to come from people with accessibility needs, according to the European Commission.
With the market valued at £12bn a year in the UK alone, Revitalise believes that this move will result in greater choice and give disabled consumers more assurance that what is described will be suitable.
Revitalise sees the acquisition as evidence that the travel industry as a whole is taking the needs of disabled holidaymakers more seriously, an issue on which the charity has consistently campaigned.
Earlier this year, disability charity Scope urged the industry to invest in disabled travellers, suggesting that the UK market was missing out on £1.8bn by not doing so.
Chris Simmonds, CEO of Revitalise, said: “For too long the mainstream holiday sector has paid lip service to the needs of disabled travellers, so it’s great to see a giant like Airbnb taking this issue seriously.
“We recently studied the accessibility of the UK’s leading visitor attractions and found that 65% of disabled people would rather stay at home than risk visiting a venue if they were not able to find sufficient accessibility information beforehand.”
He added: “Imagine how much more reluctant they are to book holiday accommodation when these same concerns apply? We hope Airbnb’s decisive move will lead to others stepping up and improving their provision for disabled people.”