It took 2 500 years to start with wellness tourism!

Autor: Marko Siller

The concept of wellness tourism as such is considered to be recent phenomenon. It`s currently emerging, developing and becoming new trend. But if we take the core of medical, spa, or any other wellness tourism related type of travelling, we can go back to few centuries BC.

Let`s take Greek baths, Roman thermae, Japanese onsen baths, Turkish baths or hammams in the Middle-East, or even Nordic sauna that includes aquatic procedures – those are all ancient and historical methods designed for relaxation, medical treatment, and rejuvenation. Greek pilgrims travelling to meet healing gods and people visiting India for yoga and Ayurveda purposes were most probably the first medical “tourists”.

While medical tourism enjoyed popularity earlier (travelling to other country in order to find cheaper service, shorter waiting lists, better rehabilitation programmes or plastic surgery), spa tourism started supposedly in 1986, when first spa opened its doors. Spreading of spas made it possible to take relaxing trips to foreign countries. Also some institutions offering medical facilities, started to include more “spa”, “tourism”, and “general wellbeing” to their services.

This all contributed to bringing (medical) treatment, wellbeing, fitness, spas and tourism closer to each other. Today we can talk about wellness tourism or wellness travel, that is explained as:

…travelling for the primary purpose of achieving, promoting or maintaining maximum health and a sense of well-being. It’s about being proactive in discovering new ways to promote a healthier, less stressful lifestyle. It’s about finding balance in one’s life.

Travel to Wellness

Wellness tourism includes for example spa treatments, different fitness activities and sports, healthy nutrition, yoga or meditating moments with yourself, cultural experiences, exploring nature, all kind of inspirational activities, and many more. The idea of wellness tourism is to quit your daily environment for a period of time, relax, spend some refreshing and energizing time with yourself or the whole family.

Although recent area of tourism, many wellness tourism “consumers” tend to be demanding. Melanie Smith, the author of sevaral wellness related researches, points out that people already expect customized products, unique treatments, and extremely high quality service. The use of indigenous products and ingredients has become important. She says that “spas are becoming places to socialise, as they were historically”.

It`s a new challenge to fulfill the high requirements set by travellers. In order to meet the demand, wellness industry managers must have a good basics of knowledge. Aquiring academical degree or participating shorter courses are two options.

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Marko Siller on turismi ja turismihariduse turundaja Tartu Ülikooli Pärnu kolledžis. Wellness education on uutmoodi lähenemine turismiharidusele, mis toob Eestisse rahvusvahelist teadmist-kogemust ning kasvatab uusi turismiettevõtjaid.

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