Photo used under Creative Commons from ** RCB **
Gaining Exposure through Big Numbers
Big numbers get media attention and wellness tourism is no exception. Journalists and writers, Google key words to find statistics and facts about the industry and mistake a projection as fact.
Lack of Data
There are no booking categories for wellness tourism. Tourism boards, visitor’s bureaus and destination management organizations have no tracking system or resources for collecting data on wellness travel which is squarely at odds with the projections that are quoted consistently without question. How are these projections figured?
Defining the Market
One of the major challenges is defining the wellness traveler is: what behavior or activities qualify a tourist to be identified in this niche category? Does this include a vacation dedicated to improving well-being or a trip that includes some aspect of wellness? If it is the later, than practically any travel can be a wellness trip if it includes healthy food, physical activity, time in nature, volunteering and a plethora of other choices leading to improved well-being. Does wellness tourism involve both leisure and business travel? How does one truly define the market? Rather than count healthy lifestyle consumers (aka secondary wellness travelers), narrowing the focus to travelers who’s primary motivation is to vacation for well-being should provide more credible data. It is also a much smaller piece of the pie.
Proceed with Open Eyes
Destinations, investors and anyone seeking to enter the wellness tourism market should look with a critical eye. Overly optimistic numbers are a problem to every business (example: McKinsey’s report on medical tourism). Non-profits seeking grant funding, start-ups, existing businesses and even large investors are at risk when they blindly accept projections as fact.
While I believe that wellness tourism has enormous potential to change lives, communities, businesses and economies, a clearer picture is needed. Definitions need to be better understood and applied. Transparency in methodology is needed. Independent thought in a collaborative environment is highly valuable.
2/27/2016 05:02:23 am
Thanks you for this post. There is a lot of data at the moment but it is mainly from 2013/2014. It will be very interesting to see what data does emerge over the next year or so.
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