Leveraging technology for accessible India !
Travellers with limited mobility have always faced a lot of difficulty in India. Umoja is an online platform that makes travel easy for this segment in many destinations by providing them information regarding accessible friendly hotels, useful user reviews, and other important aspects. Informing that worldwide there are over 1.1 billion people with disabilities who face difficulties when travelling, Yeshwant Rao Holkar, CEO/founder, Umoja stated, “Accessible tourism sector is estimated to be worth US$ 134 billion annually with immense market potential.” Holkar and his business partner decided to leverage technology to gather from hotels detailed and dependable information that persons with disabilities need when they travel. “We have put it on a easy-to-use and fun website where anyone with an accessibility need can find the hotels they want and travel with dignity and confidence,” he said.
Interestingly, Umoja is a Swahili word for inclusive, and the company aims to make travel inclusive for people with accessibility needs. Umoja currently covers accessible hotels in many tourism hotspots in the country. “We have developed two Accessible India! itineraries around the Golden Triangle and the beaches of the Goa and Kerela which we market to both the inbound and domestic markets,” stated Holkar. They are adding more hotels on the platform everyday. Holkar acknowledged that while India still has a long way to go to reach accessibility standards seen in Europe, the UK, and America, the situation is not that bad in the country. “We were shocked to learn that over 70 per cent of the hotels we assessed in India were accessible to people with lower body impairments. It was also fantastic to see accessibility becoming more important to the hospitality sector, with brands such as the Lemon Tree Hotels having made accessibility an important part of their corporate culture,” he mentioned.
The company aims to be a global solution provider for accessible travel anywhere.