For years, travelers with disabilities have had to cope with hardships and limitations on their ability to reach inaccessible areas in many destinations. Now, Israel has joined a number of other countries in ensuring that all tourists – even those who are wheelchair-bound – can access hotels, car rentals, restaurants and attractions with ease.

Lioz Amar, 39, is the owner and founder of Travaxy. He was seriously injured during his Israeli military service when he was 21 years old and the injury left him confined to a wheelchair. As part of the long rehabilitation process, he began swimming, which began as a form of physical therapy, but over time became professional and Amar represented Israel in the 2008 Paralympic Games at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, reaching 8th place in the world.

His lifestyle as an athlete included quite a few trips around the world that always left him with a taste for more. “I lost a lot through my injury and the trips around the world helped me regain control,” he said. “The ability to go out and about in the world pushed me forward. The trips brought hope to my life.”

His new reality as a disabled tourist has challenged Amar with many obstacles and hardships. Travaxy was born out of Amar’s personal need and experience.

Travaxy is a travel and booking platform that enables people with disabilities and senior citizens to plan and book accessible trips in a simple and efficient way. Existing online booking sites do not have the tools or knowledge to provide services to travelers with various disabilities; the possibilities are very few and often do not satisfy the special needs of the travelers. Things such as ordering an on-line flight ticket, booking a hotel room or renting an accessible car are not obvious for a disabled person. Most sites do not even have the option, and where there are certain services, they do not cover a whole vacation and are not done automatically, but require the traveler to spend a lot of time and energy on phones calls, emails and online searches. Often, travelers with disabilities must call or send an email to the service providers explaining their specific needs. This makes it difficult to reserve a vacation due to language gaps, physical challenges and additional restrictions, sometimes to the point of giving up the vacation altogether. The information scattered on blogs and websites is often outdated, so that a traveler with a disability may arrive at the site and suddenly discover that it is not accessible.

Amar, together with his company, hopes to change all this, one country at a time.

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