Xie Haidi (R) talks with a disabled tourist [China Women's News]
Xie Haidi came up with the idea of setting up a barrier-free travel agency in China in 2016, hoping to assist disabled people to travel as ordinary people do.
Her travel agency has now operated for three years and been praised by the disabled people and industry insiders for its professional service.
Xie has 10-year working experience in public welfare undertakings and believes that travelling is the fastest, simplest and least-pressured way to help disabled people come out of their daily circle and see the world.
In order to clarify the market demand, Xie surveyed 100 disabled people, among whom 68 people expressed a strong willingness to travel.
In July 2017, Xie established the Robins travel agency with the mission of creating barrier-free travelling environment for disabled people. It is the first barrier-free travel agency for the disabled in China.
In October of that year the agency led a tour group of 20 disabled people for the first time to the historic site of the Huangpu Port in Guangzhou.
In December 2018, the travel agency led a tour group to Thailand, the first time it had taken disabled people abroad. The Robins provided considerate service for their clients, for example, by providing long clamps in case they needed to pick up articles from the ground and preparing shower heads with special switches to let disabled people bathe in their wheelchairs as well as raincoats to protect wheelchairs. It won the trust of many disabled people with such special care.
By April 2019, The Robins has offered more than 40 tourist destinations and has provided service to over 1,000 disabled and elderly people including those with walking difficulties and visual impairments.
"China has 80 million disabled people. Many people think they are a group of people waiting for donations and assistance. Actually, the disabled have the basic rights of getting jobs, studying and travelling. Many of them have purchasing power," Xie said.
Xie prefers to do something that goes from zero to one. She believes that marketing and development of the tourism for the disabled deserves her effort.
With the development of the business, Xie gained in-depth awareness of the disabled. At first, her business only involved people with physical, hearing, and visual disabilities; later, she found that elderly people, pregnant women and temporarily injured people should also be included in the service list as they too have travel demands that need to be met.
At present, the domestic tourism market rarely has tourism products aiming at people above 65 years old and the disabled. "We need to develop a product with more considerations and companions and make sure there is no invisible consumption," she added.
No insurance for the disabled tourists and the risks in their safety is what Xie and her team have worried about. To provide insurance to the disabled tourists and the travel agency, Xie negotiated with China Life Insurance (Group) Company for more than seven months and launched the first personal accident insurance product for disabled tourists this May.
The insurance product not only targets at disabled but also elderly people, so that there is no age limit for buyers and the coverage is not affected by age.
Xie has great passion and expectation for the career she started. The agency also develops tourism books and other tourism-related products. Xie plans to focus on the market in target cities and improvement of standardized service in tourism destinations. "Anything that goes with the times is valuable." Xie said.
(Source: China Women's News / Translated and edited by Women of China)