The spotlight is on Wellness Tourism
One of the most rewarding things I’ve borne witness to of late, is the growing spotlight on wellness and wellness tourism. About time eh? The subject of illness prevention, longevity, pro active health and protective medicine has long since been tabled and more often, passed over… in favour of a more conventional, reactive approach. Of a ‘safer’ bet. Of a scientific, ‘cannot argue with it’ answer, for symptoms both physical and mental.
I have just returned from the inaugural Global Wellness Tourism Congress, part of the established Global Spa and Wellness Summit (GSWS) movement. It was quite the game changer. The intention and objective of The Congress was to spotlight wellness tourism in an environment that brings public and private sector together to learn, as well as support each other, amidst the evolution of this valuable tourism sector.
It isn’t so long ago that I was encouraging, cajoling and championing to have the first integrative health spa model embraced and embedded for a global 5 star hotel brand – that was 2006, boy were we ahead of the game. Talise ‘Wellness’ was born but on reflection, it was an uncomfortable and maybe even slightly irritating (can’t reach it) itch, in the pants of those I was championing to.
There was tempered disbelief (amongst the top brass) in the face of my unflagging conviction that ‘integrative health’ and ‘wellness’ was the differential we were seeking for the new spa brand. Who could blame them? There wasn’t the research and the qualification there is today and there I was spouting forth on little more than unqualified instinct. But, all credit goes to The Jumeirah Group because it did go forward, a (basic) pathology lab amongst it to ensure the trustable, conventional and qualified approach was there as a crucial basis to the integrative health model. Bravo I say – further testament to their cutting edge, iconic approach to luxury and hospitality.
High calibre endorsement
Now, it’s a bit of a different ball game;
Leading economist Thierry Malleret says “it’s inevitable that nations, medical establishments and insurers will be forced to embrace and mandate policies of prevention, because they’re far less expensive than the established, reactive “curing” model”
Jean- Claude Baumgarten –immediately previous CEO and President for the WTTC says “Wellness Tourism is poised to reshape tourism as we know it.”
Ophelia Yeung “Wellness tourism is projected to grow by more than 9% per year through 2017, nearly 50% faster than overall global tourism.” ‘Global Wellness Tourism Economy’ report by SRI International
Seven years on, hearing these statements, alongside the recently debuted and hugely compelling research findings contained in the ‘Global Wellness Tourism Economy’ report., the world of tourism both public and private sector, is somewhat agog. Not only at the economic potential but also the social implications of what a wellness spotlight could bring.
What could this mean?
The reality is, that wellness and prevention is gaining a firmer footing in the minds of policy makers. The need for a more sustainable approach to overall wellbeing is becoming more evident by the day.
It could mean prevention and wellness becoming a priority in developed and developing countries. I could mean a paradigm shift in attitude around ‘healthcare’. It could mean a reverse in the debilitating lifestyle illness statistics that we currently see. It could mean a whole bunch of exciting things but right now, lets celebrate the fact that wellness, wellness tourism and a preventive approach is on the global radar. That’s a lot to be thankful for.