Wellness Tourism Association Qualifies What Makes a "Wellness Destination"

Furnas, Sao Miguel Island, Azores
Furnas, Sao Miguel Island, Azores // Photo by Yulia-B/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

With the wellness tourism sector spreading globally, geographic destinations around the world are seeking to put themselves on the radar of wellness-minded travelers. Now, the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) is trying to bring some consistency and responsibility to marketers who with to position their destinations as such. 

In a November 2018 report, the Global Wellness Institute noted "the number of countries that actively market some form of wellness tourism at the national level has grown from 65 in 2013 to more than 100 in 2018." Therefore, the WTA has unveiled its list of suggested assets and attributes that geographic destinations should possess in order to market themselves as "Wellness Destinations."

Should a tourism board, convention and visitor bureau (CVB) or destination marketing organization (DMO) representing a town, province, state or country seek to launch a national program to position the region as a "Wellness Destination," WTA is calling for that geographic destination to, first and foremost, adhere to certain criteria, so as to not confuse the travel consumer.

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The right to use the term "Wellness Destination," in other words, should come with some responsibility, the WTA says.

The nine-point list to qualify as a “Wellness Destination” is as follows:

  • A safe/secure environment in both perception and reality
  • A clean and sanitary infrastructure for both locals and visitors
  • A quality of life for locals who benefit from tourism dollars (e.g. the creation of jobs within the industry and the creation of a market for locally made produce/products/services)
  • Natural assets, such as hot springs/mountains/bodies of water/forests/resources for thalassotherapy or other natural assets within the confines of the destination and easily accessible to visitors
  • Since Wellness Tourism and Wellness Travel encompass wellness for the planet, the destination must have substantial sustainability policies and practices in place
  • The availability and accessibility of a wide range of wellness-professionals and practitioners, including those who offer holistic and alternative modalities
  • A selection of hotel restaurants and independent restaurants offering healthful cuisine prepared by chefs committed to clean eating and who work in partnership with local growers
  • Availability of a range of fitness-based activities and tours (e.g. yoga, hiking, cycling, fitness classes, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding)
  • A physical environment that is somewhat removed from the noise that has become "daily life" in the 21st century

The year-old Wellness Tourism Association has 80-plus members and partners from 15 countries: Australia, Brussels, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Maldives, Monaco, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.

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