With the wellness tourism sector spreading globally, geographic destinations around the world are seeking to position themselves on the radar of wellness-minded travelers from near and far.
With booming growth as a backdrop, the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) has unveiled a list of suggested assets and attributes that geographic destinations should possess as they seek to market themselves as “Wellness Destinations.”
The timing for such a list couldn’t be more appropriate. In its November 2018 report on the Global Wellness Tourism Economy, the Global Wellness Institute noted “the number of countries that actively market some form of wellness tourism at the national level has grown from 65 in 2013 to more than 100 in 2018.”
Marketing simple wellness offerings and/or strategic wellness initiatives is one thing. But should a tourism board, convention and visitor bureau (CVB), or destination marketing organization (DMO) representing a small town, province, state, or even an entire country seek to launch a national program to position a specific region as a “Wellness Destination,” WTA is calling for that geographic destination to, first and foremost, live up to certain basic criteria so as not to confuse the travel consumer. The right to use the term “Wellness Destination,” in other words, should come with some responsibility.
To this end, WTA has announced a list of suggested assets and attributes that geographic destinations – towns, regions, counties, and countries alike – should possess as they look to market themselves to consumers as Wellness Destinations. The nine-point list is as follows:
• A safe/secure environment in both perception and reality
• A clean and sanitary infrastructure for both locals and visitors
• A quality-of-life for locals who benefit from tourism dollars – e.g. the creation of jobs within the industry and the creation of a market for locally made produce/products/services
• Natural assets such as hot springs/mountains/bodies of water/forests/resources for thalassotherapy or other natural assets within the confines of the destination and easily accessible to visitors
• Since Wellness Tourism and Wellness Travel encompass wellness for the planet, the destination must have substantial sustainability policies and practices in place
• The availability and accessibility of a wide range of wellness-professionals and practitioners, including those who offer holistic and alternative modalities
• A selection of hotel restaurants and independent restaurants offering healthful cuisine prepared by chefs committed to clean eating and who work in partnership with local growers
• Availability of a range of fitness-based activities and tours – e.g. yoga, hiking, cycling, fitness classes, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding
• A physical environment that is somewhat removed from the noise that has become “daily life” in the 21st century
Anne Dimon, President of the Wellness Tourism Association says: “There is nothing more vital to the continued growth of wellness tourism than for consumers to be clear on what awaits them in their travels. WTA sees the nine-point criteria as a necessary foundation for any region proclaiming itself a ‘Wellness Destination,’ and suggests that tourism boards, CVBs and DMOs intending to call or promote themselves as such possess and/or have these basic assets and attributes in place.”