The demand of wellbeing and wellness services has increased while large number of people is stressed of living in work-obsessed, time-pressured, materialistic and over-individualistic societies. The health and wellness tourism industry, broadly defined, includes products and services made accessible to people travelling from their place of residence for health reasons. Changing attitudes to health care and the growing recognition of the importance of prevention rather than cure associated with a general search for all round well-being benefits of a holiday, as well as in consumers' everyday lifestyles give the great opportunity to European spas and leisure centres.
Analysis carried out by SRI International for the 2011 Global Spa Summit (an annual event for spa professionals) showed that wellness tourism already represents a the US$106-billion global spa industry made up of interrelated sectors that also include medical and wellness tourism, generating . The number of active wellness consumers in the world's 30 industrialized nations is currently about 289 million and growing. The demand for health tourism products and services are driven by driven by greater health awareness and changing attitudes to health care and the raising recognition of the importance of prevention rather than cure associated with a general search for all round well-being benefits of a holiday, as well as in consumers' everyday lifestyles (Mintel, 2011). As a result, travellers are seeking destinations that provide them with a range of opportunity to pursue their leisure activities, while at the same time having access to spas, natural treatments, relaxation and quality accommodation with good locally-produced food and drink. Many consumers visit destination and wellness/medical spas (especially in Europe) specifically for the purposes of weight loss, health improvement or recovery from illness, injury or surgery.
In a highly competitive environment and fast-growing economy, tourism providers are teeming to develop new alternatives to grab the opportunity due to economy growth as long as the circumstance dictates. Thus, it is not surprising to see in variety of refreshing services added into the operation from time to time. Fascination with fitness and alternative therapies give the great opportunity to Spas and leisure centres to promoting and enhancing health and nutrition counselling.
Recently, new products using a health label entailing both physical and psychological treatments have been developed by the tourism and hospitality sectors, especially by luxury brand hotels. Those innovations in services are inclined to promote individuals' state of well being. In Europe, some accommodation providers have utilized "wellness" (for example wellness centre, wellness hotel and wellness resort) as a prefix for a new frontier of trade so as to position themselves as revival retreats from the aspect of body, mind and spirit. In order to achieve success in the health, wellness and wellbeing tourism sector and to strengthen competitiveness for the future.
According to Global Spa Submit (2010) Eighty-nine percent of industry respondents see wellness as an important future driver for the spa industry. At the same time, eighty-two percent of industry respondents indicated that they have taken steps to respond to the wellness movement over the last five years, and among this group, 91% also reported that these changes have yielded growth in revenues. The statistics also showed that nine out of 10 industry respondents plan to make wellness-related investments in the next 5-10 years. Almost all of them believe their business will see growth from these investments, and 70% expect their wellness-related investments to lead to more than 10% revenue growth. The tradition of spa and leisure centres as a place for healing, renewal, relaxation,‖ positions the wellness industry as one of the most logical sectors to take advantage of (and help lead) the spa movement. Many in the spa industry see wellness as an opportunity for spa to reshape the image, to regroup after the global recession, and to move away from the perception of spa a provider of luxurious and beauty services for the wealthy. This thought bears special attraction in today's economy, when many travellers have less disposable income to spend on luxury or non-essential products and services.
According to Spa Summit (2011), growth of medical tourism will have positive economic and development impacts on particular countries. Wellness and medical tourism creates jobs and produce tax revenue. A big wellness and medical sector is an economic asset that stimulates business activity, attracts tourism revenue, retains a high quality work force and stabilizes property values.
Sustainability has become the word of the 21st century. The issues of sustainability include ecological, social, economic and cultural dimensions and therefore impacts on all human activity. The wellness and medical tourism begin to embrace personal wellness, which cannot be separated from the wellness of the planet, spas take on a responsibility to demonstrate how environmentally friendly technologies can be used to deliver the experience of well-being in a sustainable manner. Visitors and guests now expect hotels, resorts and spas to have policies and practices that promote sustainable purchasing, use local products, minimise carbon emissions and provide support for local community projects
Global Spa summit (2011) Research report: Global Spa Summit 2011. Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism: Where Do Spas Fit? [online] [Accessed 30 April 2012]. Available at: < http://www.leadingspasofcanada.com/files/file/Business%20Tools/spas_wellness_medical_tourism_report_final.pdf>
Mintel (2011) Spa Tourism. [online]. London: Mintel
[Accessed 28 April 2012]. Available at: < http://academic.mintel.com/sinatra/oxygen_academic/display/id=545413/display/id=597020?select_section=597021 >