Virgin expected to introduce autism-friendly holidays

Virgin Holidays, one of the largest long-haul tour operators in the world, is planning to introduce autism-friendly holiday packages to the UK.

It has reportedly teamed up with charity Autism Parent Empower to make usually-complicated breaks relaxing for families with autistic children.

Autism, a condition which affects around 700,000 people in the UK, impacts on how a person communicates and interacts with others in a social setting.

Jo-Ann D’Costa-Manuel, founder and director of the charity, said it will provide staff in selected locations with special training so that they can better accommodate for children with the condition.

“We’re looking at more than one hotel, in various locations,” Ms D’Costa-Manuel told The Independent.

“I’d love to be able to see in their brochures that they have a little icon that identifies where is autism-friendly. Families can pick destinations and know there’s lots of things in place to support them while they’re there.

“There’s research to show every time you’re exposed to a new smell, sound or sight, it helps create new neural pathways.

“It’s just not about mum and dad having a rest, but can be brilliant for a child with a neural disability.”

Virgin Holidays said it wanted to “enhance [its] provisions for families with autism throughout their entire holiday”, and was considering “various initiatives to assist families with autism who wish to travel”.