Making Travel Easier...
For Family and Special Needs Travelers...
As Appearing in Insider Travel Report.com. 4/22/21
April is Autism Acceptance Month. Many travel advisors don’t know much about special-needs travel, but they should. It’s been estimated that one out of 54 children in the United States is on the autistic spectrum and that one out of every 10 families have a special needs child.
Sadly, while special needs travel continues to be one of the fastest-growing family travel segments, it is one that is severely underserved. The question is, why would you want to rule out 10 percent of your prospective clientele?
The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), a global leader in cognitive disorder training and certification--is doing something about the problem. They’ve given travel advisors the ability to become Certified Autism Travel Professionals with the CATP designation.
I’m currently writing a book on special needs travel and I’ve interviewed dozens of advisors who have benefited from this training. Unfortunately, many of the spectrum parents I’ve interviewed still plan travel on their own. Clearly more education is needed and hopefully my book will help in that regard. In the meantime, you can learn more about becoming a CATP at Certified Autism Travel Professional (www.ibcces.org). If you or your clients would like to contribute to my book, contact me at email@example.com.
While travel advisors can be certified as CATPs, they need specialized destinations where they can send their clients, ones whose staff members are attuned to the sensory needs of clients on the spectrum. To that end, IBCCES gives properties and venues the ability to become certified as Certified Autism Centers (CAC) and even Advanced Certified Autism Centers (ACAC).
The big news for Autism Acceptance month this year is that Beaches Resorts, which in 2017 was the first resort company in the world to receive the CAC designation and, in 2019, received the ACAC destination, has extended its ACAC accreditation through 2023.
What makes a CAC or ACAC resort different than a typical property? For Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, it means advanced autism training for its staff to increase sensitivity—offered virtually during COVID—with an emphasis on key touch point areas, including kids’ camps, entertainment, front desk/reception, food and beverage and watersports operations. As part of its recertification, Beaches will also expand its training of team members to the airport arrival lounge and reception area in Montego Bay, Jamaica and Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, which offer the first point of contact for Beaches’ arriving guests.
At Beaches, spectrum families will benefit from:
Beaches also will launch a Sensory Stimulation Guide for guests with sensory needs, providing comfort and an understanding of what to expect in each designated area of the resort. The guide, which outlines the degree of sensory stimulation in a specific area or event, allows families to easily plan and navigate their visit based on their individual needs.
Designated Low Sensory Areas also will be identified at all resorts, allowing guests to find comfort in designated spaces should they need a break from sensory stimulation. These locations will be easily identifiable through resort maps, onsite signage and in pre-travel planning materials.
“Like the rest of the world, we know families and autistic individuals are looking forward to traveling, visiting new places, and making new memories as soon as they are able to,” says Myron Pincomb, IBCCES board chairman and CEO.
“They are also looking for organizations that are trained and certified in autism, particularly leaders like Beaches Resorts, who go above and beyond. The professionalism, dedication and enthusiasm of the team at Beaches Resorts is second to none, and we are thrilled to continue our partnership to provide long-lasting support and impact.”
In addition, Beaches Resorts’ industry-leading Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness were created with consideration of guests with sensory disorders. While first meeting rigorous health and safety standards, the resort company ensures the use of low-fragrance cleaners, fragrance-free hand sanitizers and other products to ensure guests with sensory disorders have an enjoyable and safe experience. Complimentary COVID-19 testing also is available to all registered guests at Beaches Resorts prior to their departure.
For more information on Beaches’ longstanding commitment to creating an autism-friendly environment, visit www.beaches.com/all-inclusive/autism-friendly/.
.My name is Dawn M. Barclay. My parents were owners of Barclay Travel Ltd. and later, Barclay International Group, and I basically grew up in the travel industry. Along with stints working with both companies and a few other travel-related firms, I've served as a senior editor/reporter at Travel Agent Magazine, a contributing editor at Travel Life, the meetings/incentive editor at Travel Market Report and now, the Contributing Editor for Family Travel and Special Needs Travel at Insider Travel Report. My articles have also appeared in the pages of Jax Fax, GoNomad, and Successful Meetings Magazine. I also write psychological thrillers and romance as D.M. Barr.