Disability Travel Survey Identifies Most Popular American Cities

CHICAGO, March 30 /PRNewswire/ — Where do adults with disabilities commonly travel for leisure or business within the continental US? Until the recent study of U.S. adults with disabilities, conducted in February 2005 by Harris Interactive(R) for the Open Doors Organization (ODO), there was really no answer to this key question. Now American cities and their tourism bureaus can gauge how popular they are among this growing market segment. Topping the list of cities most traveled to by adults with disabilities were New York City (47%), Washington, DC. (45%), and Chicago (44%), edging out Orlando, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles (all tied at 42%). Rounding out the top ten destinations, in order, were San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, and San Diego.

General findings from this study, released in conjunction with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), not only identified which cities these travelers have visited, but also explored their patterns of hotel, restaurant and transportation use. 40 major tourism destinations from every region of the continental US were included in the survey.

Based as it is in Chicago, Open Doors Organization was delighted with the city’s third-place finish. “We are making great strides in making Chicago one of the most accessible cities in the nation,” said Karen Tamley, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “From popular tourist attractions such as the Lakefront Festivals and Millennium Park to our 100% accessible bus fleet, we believe Chicago offers a wide range of accessible options for residents and visitors with disabilities, making it one of the nation’s top destinations.”

But are American cities in general doing enough to ensure that this group of visitors also has a great travel experience? “Often only a few minor steps can make a city more attractive to first-time visitors with disabilities and encourage repeat visits. Adapted transportation continues to be an issue, getting to and from the airport or just visiting local attractions. Having a website that is both accessible in itself and has accessibility information is another key component to serving this market,” says ODO Executive Director, Eric Lipp.

The survey, the second of two studies undertaken by ODO, was carried out in response to the growing population of adults with disabilities. It was conducted online and by telephone in February 2005 among a national sample of 1,373 U.S. adults with disabilities aged 18 or over. The question concerning U.S. destinations was asked only of online respondents, a sample of 871. The sampling error for the total sample and online sample results is plus or minus 3 percentage points. For further description of methodology, see the ODO website ( http://www.opendoorsnfp.org/ ).

Harris Interactive Inc. ( http://www.harrisinteractive.com/ ), based in Rochester, New York, is the 13th largest and the fastest-growing market research firm in the world, most widely known for The Harris Poll(R) and for its pioneering leadership in the online market research industry.

Also contributing to the design of the ODO study was the Travel Industry Association of America, a leader in market research on the U.S. travel industry. The Open Doors Organization is a non-profit organization founded in 2000 for the purpose of teaching businesses how to succeed in the disability market and make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities. Copies of the market study are available for sale through ODO (773-388-8839, info@opendoorsnfp.org ).

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