The Wellness Tourism Association defines a Wellness Destination as “A geographical area that fosters and promotes wellness as an integral part of life within the community and economics of the region.”
Back in 2019, the WTA unveiled a nine-point list of assets and attributes that geographic regions of the world should possess as they seek to market themselves to consumers as Wellness Destinations.
Here is the nine-point list of what it takes for a geographic region to market itself as a Wellness Destination:
- 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
There is nothing more vital to the continued growth of wellness tourism than for consumers to be clear on what awaits them in their travels. WTA sees the nine-point criteria as a necessary foundation for any region proclaiming itself a ‘Wellness Destination,’ and suggests that tourism boards, CVBs and DMOs intending to call or promote themselves as such possess and/or have these basic assets and attributes in place.
Anne Dimon, President/CEO of the WTA says, “Marketing simple wellness offerings and/or strategic wellness initiatives is one thing. But should a tourism board, convention and visitor bureau (CVB), or destination marketing organization (DMO) looking to launch a national program or initiative to position a specific town or region as a Wellness Destination, WTA is calling for that organization to, first and foremost, live up to certain basic criteria so as not to confuse the travel consumer. The right to use the term Wellness Destination, in other words, should come with some responsibility.”