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Persons with disabilities spend $918 million annually in Virginia according to Virginia Tourism







Virginia Offers Disabled Travelers Guides to State

by Tim Deady


Few travel companies have spent much time or money promoting their businesses to people with disabilities. The same holds true for public entities such as convention bureaus.


An exception is Virginia Tourism Corp., a public-private entity that promotes travel in the state. The agency is one of three state tourism offices that actively pursue disabled travelers, according to Cheryl Duke, President of W.C. Duke Associates in Woodford, Va., and expert on disabled travel. "States just don't realize the potential market, " said Duke, citing studies that showed disabled Americans have between $188 billion and $250 billion in disposable' income.


"We've heard the remark that the 'disabled dollar is as green as any other dollar,' and we believe that's true," said Martha Steger, a spokeswoman for Virginia Tourism Corp. Disabled travelers generate about $918 million annually in revenue for businesses in Virginia, according to the corporation. That represented about 9 percent of all money spent by all travelers in the state that year.


"That is not an insignificant amount," Steger said. "Each year tourists spend $1 billion in both Fairfax and Arlington counties. The amount of money generated by disabled travelers in Virginia every year is like adding another county to Northern Virginia.


"There are 54 million Americans with disabilities, and half of them are very capable of traveling," Steger said. "That is a huge market."