This pivotal report marks KOA’s first in-depth exploration into the state of camping and outdoor enjoyment, with a specific focus on accessibility. The report is a significant step in addressing the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in outdoor settings.
The report reveals that approximately 1 billion people worldwide, representing about 15% of the global population, live with one or more disabilities.
This statistic underscores the importance of considering accessibility in outdoor recreation. KOA’s research delves into the experiences, behaviors, and barriers encountered by those whose disabilities impact their camping experience, noting that 38% of the surveyed individuals face such challenges.
Despite these challenges, the report finds a silver lining: 48% of campers with accessibility issues report that camping is a more accessible travel experience compared to other forms of outdoor activities or leisure travel. However, the report acknowledges that there is still significant work to be done to make outdoor experiences universally accessible.
Whitney Scott, senior vice president of strategy at KOA, emphasized the company’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), particularly in making outdoor spaces accessible.
According to Scott, in 2023, KOA dedicated its efforts to understanding and envisioning what an accessible outdoors would entail. Scott highlighted the importance of sharing the data collected to raise awareness about the needs for an accessible outdoors.
“Moving into 2024, we’re committed to building on what we have learned through programs, design and initiatives to create a more accessible outdoors and workplace environment.”
This commitment is not only a moral imperative but also presents an opportunity to increase diversity among outdoor enthusiasts.
The report identifies key barriers to accessibility in outdoor spaces. Essential infrastructure, such as adequately equipped bathrooms and level or smooth pathways, is highlighted as the most significant challenge.
The report notes that 46% of respondents identified the need for better-equipped bathrooms, while 37% pointed out the necessity of level or smooth pathways.
For campground and outdoor hospitality operators, this report offers valuable insights. It provides a roadmap for making outdoor spaces more inclusive and accessible, which can lead to a broader customer base and enhanced guest experiences.
By addressing the identified barriers, operators can create environments that are welcoming to all, regardless of physical or cognitive abilities.
The findings of KOA’s report are not just relevant to campers with disabilities. They also offer a perspective on the broader implications of accessibility in the outdoor hospitality industry. By improving accessibility, campground operators can tap into a market segment that has been historically underserved.
KOA’s report on outdoor accessibility is a call to action for the entire outdoor hospitality industry. By understanding and addressing the needs of all campers, including those with disabilities, the industry can create more inclusive, welcoming, and enjoyable outdoor experiences for everyone.