Global Wellness Tourism Congress Takes “Wellness Tourism” To Next Level

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The Global Wellness Tourism Congress (GWTC) unveils key strategies for wellness tourism growth – helping governments and the travel industry shape this growing sector.

The strategies evolved from discussions with leaders from tourism ministries across Europe and Africa and organizations like The World Travel & Tourism Council.

The Global Wellness Tourism Congress (GWTC) held its first roundtable at the Dorchester, London on April 1st.  Discussions will continue at future roundtable events and during the GWTC taking place Sept 10th in Marrakech, Morocco. The invite-only event attracted leaders from within the Finnish, Greek, Moroccan, Portuguese, Spanish, Swiss and UK tourism ministries and organizations, as well as executives from powerful travel and healthcare establishments like The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Bupa, the global healthcare group. 

Since the GWTC released the “Global Wellness Tourism Economy” report in October, finding that wellness travel is already a $439 billion USD market, forecast to grow another 50% through 2017, this emerging travel category has seen national and regional tourism authorities taking action to promote their wellness offerings.

In a Q & A moderated by GWTC executives Anni Hood and Susie Ellis, the tourism and health experts assembled discussed the detailed, new research report that helped define the two key categories of primary (taking a trip entirely for wellness purposes) and secondary wellness travel (engaging in wellness-related activities during a trip). The exchange was wide-ranging and spirited on how to best grow wellness tourism: from getting consumers excited about a new, healthier approach to travel – to successfully convincing more tourism organizations and governments of its social and economic benefits.

Radically Different Language Needed for Consumers & Governments: Roundtable participants agreed that more education about the benefits of, and tangible options in, wellness tourism were needed for consumers, tourism bodies, governments, tour operators and travel agents. A dominant topic: the language used to promote this travel category to consumers and governments/tourism authorities needs to be carefully developed to meet the needs of the audience – vocabulary and messaging are of paramount importance.

 “Talking” Wellness Tourism to Consumers:

·      Don’t lead with term “wellness tourism”: The roundtable discussed how, while a majority of people may in fact be doing “wellness tourism” while traveling (some fitness, going to a spa, etc.), that it’s an industry term that doesn’t resonate with “real people.”

·      Don’t preach – it’s about aspiration and pleasure: Participants agreed that for most people, telling them they should embrace healthier travel/destinations because it’s “good for them,” is a strategy that backfires.

·      Make it mainstream and affordable: The roundtable also concurred that industry stakeholders needed to better communicate that this is an accessible-to-all form of travel.

Talking Wellness Tourism to Governments = Focus on Bottom Line: Leaders from the ministries of tourism assembled all strongly agreed: when you’re talking to ministries of tourism or health, the key aspects of concern are the impact to the financial economy and jobs.

·      Use the Numbers: The data from the “Global Wellness Tourism Economy” report gives stakeholders ammunition, including $439 billion in expenditures, 11.7 million jobs, and a world economic impact of $1.3 trillion. And there are details on expenditures and trip numbers, as well as direct jobs supported and wider economic impact for 70+ nations globally.

·      A Seasonality Fighter: Wellness tourism is less vulnerable to seasonality than some other forms of travel and drives consistent revenue streams over the whole year.

·      Focus on Careers Created: The wellness tourism industry, like the WTTC, should start quantifying what the value of the jobs are – focusing on careers created.