Did you know the purple pound is worth an annual £250 billion? Do you know what the purple pound actually is? Judging by some of the blank faces at the TTG Diversity & Inclusion in Travel conference, the answer for many in the industry to both questions is probably no.
But given there are an estimated 13 million disabled people in the UK, the purple pound – which refers to the spending power of disabled households – is big business.
I was reminded of this as Responsible Travel published the latest chapter in its manifesto for the future of tourism.
It contains further eyebrow-raising statistics: in the UK, 57% of UK adults with a disability and airports and lying difficult, while three-quarters of people with mental health issues say their disability has stopped them travelling.
The travel industry, then, is not only letting disabled people down, it’s also missing out on their business. “The tourism industry can and must do better,” insists Responsible Travel’s chief executive Justin Francis this week (p6).
One way of tackling this says Jane Hatton, founder of disabled recruitment specialist Evenbreak, is through more recruitment of disabled people into the travel industry. Speaking at the TTG D&I conference, she pointed out how having disabled people in the team can help encourage more disabled customers to a business.
Improving travel for those with accessibility needs is just one of the many facets of responsible tourism (a subject we explore in more detail in this week’s issue, see p42-46), but it’s a crucial – and commercially important – one.
Now you know what the purple pound is worth, the real question is: can you really afford to ignore it?