Is now the time to embrace wellness tourism?

Is now the time to embrace wellness tourism?

For hospitality brands and destination management organizations, this may be the time to consider breaking into the wellness space. Here’s why:

For many, the concept of personal health through proactive self-care has become, and will continue to be, a new priority in our lives. Once social distancing restrictions are lifted, borders are reopened, hotels and resorts open their doors, more planes take to the skies, and we have made the decision to leave our homes for leisure excursions, our personal health and safety will top our list of priorities. Under the heavy burden of this global pandemic, and witnessing that it has been the elderly and those with underlying health conditions who have paid the greatest toll, it has become so much easier to accept the age-old adage coined by the poet Virgil: “the greatest wealth is health.”   While we cannot stop the clock on the chronological ageing process, we can do something about our biological ageing as well as several of those ‘underlying health conditions’ by simply placing a greater value on our health. I am optimistic that as the tourism industry begins to recover, that overriding concern about personal health will continue to remain a focus.

Industry research tells us that it is those who already live their lives with health as a core value who have been the main drivers behind the unprecedented growth of the wellness tourism industry over the last decade.

People who might not even consider themselves to be part of the ‘wellness travel’ surge will become so based simply on the fact that they will be making their personal health and wellbeing a top priority at home and, subsequently, taking those newly formed habits and practices with them when they travel. Simple new lifestyle habits and practices such as making healthy food choices, getting a better night’s sleep, making time for fitness activities, taking time to enjoy the multi-benefits of being out in nature, and making a concerted effort to nurture one’s mental health will be even more in demand.

Still others will want to make their health and wellbeing a new focus, but will not know where to begin. These are the people who will seek out the hotels and resorts with designated programs and multi-day retreats operated by trusted health and medical practitioners and other wellness professionals who can guide them on the path to reaching their health goals.

What does that mean for the industry? Beyond the hygiene protocols and overall destination management that will be of uppermost importance to consumers as the industry begins to recover, there will be greater demand by more travellers for the basic amenities, attributes, activities and programs that will help them maintain their health-focused lifestyles, or assist in launching them on the path to becoming a healthier human being with a stronger and more resilient immune system.

Does embracing wellness tourism mean a hotel or resort must have a spa on the premises? Not at all. While an onsite spa is certainly a welcome addition as a hotel/resort amenity, it is not a prerequisite for becoming a stakeholder in the wellness space.

The big draw as the industry begins to recover will be those slightly more remote locations, away from congested areas, easily access by car or short non-stop flights and, ideally, surrounded by nature. Easy access to nature is something that typically tops the list of ‘must haves’ with wellness-minded travellers, and nature is one of the pillars of wellness travel.

In the long run, good health truly is the greatest wealth. As a service to the industry, the Wellness Tourism Association is offering a free one-on-one, half-hour consultation about how to get started in the wellness space. Please email admin@wellnesstourismassociation.org to set up a call.

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Anne Dimon is the President & CEO of the Wellness Tourism Association and Founder/Editor of TraveltoWellness.com launched in 2004 and the first editorially-driven online travel resource for the wellness-minded.

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