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Traveleyes is the world’s first commercial international air tour operator (as distinct from a charity) that specialises in serving blind as well as sighted travellers. Established in 2005, the company is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Each holiday group includes an equal number of blind/partially sighted and sighted individuals. Blind travellers pair daily with different sighted ones, and the sighted traveller describes the sights to their blind partner. The role of the sighted individual is to be a fellow traveller and not to act as a carer. Sighted travellers receive a discount on the price of their holiday in return for this ‘use of their eyes’.
Although based in the UK, Traveleyes now takes bookings from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and indeed all parts of the world.
Lonely Planet Guides
As well as acting as a holiday operator, Traveleyes works in conjunction with Lonely Planet travel guides to produce specially formatted travel guides for blind and visually impaired travellers. The specially formatted guides are produced on CD, and run on PCs and PDAs, through speech programmes and magnification software. Guides are currently available for Malta, Morocco, California, Italy, Cuba, Crete, Canada, and Andalucía.
Traveleyes was founded by blind entrepreneur, television actor, director and world traveller Amar Latif. Amar inherited the incurable eye condition Retinitis Pigmentosa, which led, by the age of 20, to 95% sight loss. As well as founding and directing Traveleyes, Amar often acts as tour guide for the holiday groups. He was awarded the inaugural Stelios Disabled Entrepreneur Award in 2007 for his work with Traveleyes. This award is presented by EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou in partnership with the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. He was also declared the ‘Outstanding Young Business Entrepreneur of the World’ in 2005 by the Chamber of Commerce International (JCI).
Amar has also appeared in a range of TV programmes, including the BBC Two documentary Beyond Boundaries. Broadcast in October and November 2005, the four-part programme explored the levels of endurance attainable by a group of travellers with various disabilities on a gruelling 220 mile trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts of Nicaragua. Amar also directed the Channel 4 documentary Sightseeing Blind, broadcast on 15 April 2007. In 2016, Amar appeared as a "tour guide" in The Last Leg Goes Down Under on Channel 4, and in 2017, Amar presented the Channel 4 show 'How to Get Fit Fast' alongside Anna Richardson.