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.

Renee Blodgett
Founder
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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