Specialcare Holidays, India\u2019s firstholiday company for differently-abled people, will start its operations this weekend in Kerala, with the first group of tourists, comprising nearly 150 differently-abled persons, taking a day-long houseboat cruise in Alappuzha, Simon George, founder and managing director of Specialcare Holidays, said on Wednesday. \u201cIt will be a dream come true for me and Specialcare Holidays, as I have been crusading for the cause of accessible tourism since 2004 both in public and private,\u201d he said, adding: \u201cIt has been a shame for long that a state with tourism contributing around 12% to its GDP was not able to cater to the differently-abled persons who would wish to visit the state.\u201d Simon George (52) is paralysed waist-down for more than 30 years now and wheel-chair bound. He said it was estimated there are more than five million wheel-chair bound travellers in the world. \u201cAdd these with the vision and hearing impaired, mentally-challenged, the aged and the sick, who also make big chunks of travellers. A state like Kerala which depends heavily on tourism cannot ignore this huge market considering even the economic reasons alone,\u201d George said. According to him, an increasing number of hotels and shopping malls have been started which are providing these facilities. \u201cBut there is a long way to go to reach up to the US and European standards in acknowledging the existence of differently abled persons among ourselves, let alone providing facilities to them,\u201d he said. \u201cSince 2004, we have been taking up this cause and were trying to make a difference,\u201d he said. George also said being an organisation committed to accessible tourism, Specialcare Holidays also provides consultancy and project management services to other stakeholders in the industry. Through his efforts, the Kerala tourism department has agreed to introduce \u2018accessible tourism\u2019 as a special service to promote tourism under its \u2018responsible tourism\u2019 initiative.