In November 2014, it was both fascinating and encouraging to see Wellness Tourism being promoted and discussed by the global travel industry.
The exhibition stands of such countries as Germany, Austria, Iceland, Hungary and the Czech Republic presented a colourful range of images and information relating to wellness whilst other destinations such as India and Thailand offered complimentary massages to weary visitors.
For all of us who are directly involved in Health and Well-Being in tourism destinations, we could rightly say that wellness tourism has existed for hundreds of years but for many exhibitors and delegates attending WTM, there was a sense of revelation about the size, scope and potential of this sector.
In particular, there was an interesting programme of seminars dedicated to wellness tourism which involved an impressive selection of experts and practitioners. The seminars were entitled:
· What exactly is Wellness Tourism? Why is it growing twice as fast as tourism in general? How can the travel industry benefit?
· How is Wellness Tourism being newly integrated into both country and businesses’ market positioning?
· Defining the difference between Medical Tourism and Wellness Tourism?
Each seminar was well attended and stimulated a lot of questions and debate. The overriding conclusion was that Wellness Tourism will grow for the foreseeable future.
In order to make the most of these opportunities, there was however a strong message that the industry, whether it be well-being destinations, spas or individual businesses, needed to demonstrate quality, authenticity and professionalism.
I came away from World Travel Market with the positive feeling that ‘we are in the right place at the right time’.