The ‘cultural cauldron of wellness’ that is destination, regional and global authenticity abound; is hotting up and spearheading a sea change in how wellness is understood, communicated, collaborated upon and educated.
I’ve recently returned from Madeira – a business trip that combined effortlessly with daily ocean swims, spa treatments, canyoning, swimming with dolphins, incredible food and fabulous company!
The reason for the trip, was, in partnership with the Madeira Promotion Bureau, to deliver a roundtable and conference as part of the Madeira Islands’ ongoing Wellness Tourism Education Series for leading public and private sector stakeholders.
Education within wellness has become a foundational need and anchor for many destinations, countrys and regions – the commitment Madeira has made, has proved to be a very smart move – beginning with open discussion forums, acknowledging the confusion and sharing the converging trends and changing consumer habits not only informs but also inspires and showcases the potential of wellness tourism.
[blockquote style=”4″]”It is about being our best self, feeling balanced…”[/blockquote]
There is a confusion around wellness – so, what is it?Capturing the best messaging and distribution channels for the growing wellness tourism community is a challenging task. This is a community who seek different things but who are united in their quest to improve their personal wellbeing, rid themselves of stress and feel happier, more balanced.
- “It is eating healthier food and exercising.”
- “It is purpose and meaning, human connection”
- “It is being in a spa and having treatments.”
- “It’s about feeling better”
- “It is an ongoing state of dynamic growth.”
- “It is having a fantastic sleep.”
- “It’s standing on top of a mountain and breathing in the achievement.”
It is all of those things…and more – hence the challenge of articulating the commonly desired result from so many different possibilities
In London last Wednesday, I had the privilege to be asked to be a part of a speaker panel for the Aspire breakfast on Wellness Travel. The audience were made up of tour operators and travel agents and it was one of the most engaged and animated events I’ve taken part in.
For some, wellness and wellness tourism has a complexity that needs an approach resembling the prep for an assault course and a lot of head scratching – the reality is much simpler. We can make it more complicated but fundamentally it is about ‘Feeling better’. It is about being our best self, feeling balanced , Dr Jack Travis calls it an ‘ongoing dynamic state of growth’ and could be fulfilled by a hike through stunning forest, an ocean swim with dolphins, a massage or perhaps a yoga meditation as the sun goes down over a beautiful landscape.
The common desire in everyone, that is indiscriminate to age, gender, earnings and postcode is for human connection, authenticity and greater meaning in their lives. The necessity to find purpose and reason in travel and lifestyle is being fueled by several simultaneously growing trends;
- Declining physical health – growing chronic illness and disease, obesity and diabetes.
- Mental health issues – a rise in depression, dementia, anxiety and stress.
- The aging population – the over 60s number more than the under 20s in many countries already.
- Urbanisation, the rapid migration of the population to cities – the need for those people, more than ever, to find solace and reconnection.
- Loneliness – increasing numbers of people living alone and needing to feel a part of something, to have a sense of belonging.
There is little doubt – “the moment is now” for seizing a well positioned slice of the rapidly growing wellness tourism market.