The Benefits Of Travel Destinations Becoming More Accessible With Dr. Scott Rains

Scott in South Africa with some new friends.

Scott in South Africa with some new friends.

Editor’s Note: The real key to success is taking your disability and turning it into an advantage- it’s about what you can do, not what you cannot do. In the story of Dr. Scott Rains, a consultant on travel and disability, you’ll see that his wheelchair has become his marketing tool. Dr. Rains, “New Mobility” magazine’s Person of the Year, is known worldwide for opening up many countries, businesses and vacation sites to physically challenged individuals and has enabled these places to become more inclusive. Part 2 of a 5 part series.

According to two studies done in 2005 and 2007 for the Americans with Disabilities Act, first passed by Congress in 1990 and later expanded, Americans with disabilities are spending $13.6 billion a year on travel alone. We all know that America isn’t the only country with disabled people who travel. Canada is the first destination that Americans visit. The Caribbeanis the fifth top destination that disabled Americans visit. As other countries start to realize how much money disabled people are spending on travel, then the next questions are, “How do we get these disabled people to come to our destination?” and, “How can we make our destination more accessible for these people?”

They ask themselves, “Can we change our policies or building codes, so that our destination becomes more accessible?” These people realize that if they do, then they can gain more of the market share of this travel. All these needed improvements will be paid for by the new customers attracted to these places.
People who are disabled aren’t charity cases. A good number of us are individuals who have saved money, enjoy travel and want to go to accessible places. We pretty much operate like everyone else in society. We want to go out and have fun too.
Scott having a blast in Korea.

Scott having a blast in Korea.

What I do is explain and teach businesses that if they make their facilities more accessible to more people, then they can make more money. I decided fairly early after my injury that I could live with a spinal cord injury. I discovered that a tremendous amount of work had been done in this country to make more and more facilities and destinations accessible to people with physical challenges. Then I realized that physically challenged or disabled people represented a huge market for tourism and want to live their lives to the fullest.

The studies from 2005 and 2007 indicated that people in wheelchairs and with other disabilities would travel even more (possibly twice as much) if there were more places that they could go to and be comfortable. When you look at the possibility of doubling the amount of money that disabled Americans spend on travel, you’re talking about a market that’s worth $27.2 billion a year.

Therefore, I’m saying, “Mr. Hotel Owner, Mr. Attraction Owner, Mr. Airline President and Commerce Secretary, you can make more money, if you change your facilities to include everybody, and by doing so, you’ll make America stronger and healthier.” When I show up in Italy, Thailandor any other country, these people can see I’m disabled and that if they’ll make their destinations so that I can be comfortable, then more people like me will come and visit.

Scott in Bangkok, Thailand.

Scott in Bangkok, Thailand.

 Here’s an example of a tourism company that has gone the extra mile to assist travellers with physical challenges. Waypoint Yacht Charter Services books the wheelchair-adapted wood-hulled yacht the Sea Wolf.  This picture below is from a May 25-30, 2008 tour that Dr. Rains took out of Gustavus, Alaska.

Glacier Bay on Sea Wolf

Glacier Bay on Sea Wolf

Small enough to be intimate (six cabins/ three wheelchair usable) and retrofitted with wheelchair lifts to each of the three main decks cruises in Glacier Bay, Alaska on the Sea Wolf include sea kayaking because the owner has installed …a unique lift system. Scott was out of his wheelchair and into his kayak with the splash skirt fitted down in 60 seconds thanks to a skilled and attentive crew.

To take the trip yourself contact:
Sherri Backstrom
Waypoint Yacht Charter Services
t 888-491-2949 or 360-656-5934 

Please visit Dr. Rains’ blog to learn more!

Next: Dr. Scott Rains Realizes He Can Be A Ski Instructor Even Though He Can’t Walk

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

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