When we first heard about the launch of the Wellness Tourism Association in 2018, we were eager to learn more about the work they were doing. The non-profit company’s mission is to support and further the growth of the wellness tourism industry through networking, education, communication, and marketing. The organization was co-founded by Accor Hotels, Canyon Ranch and Travel to Wellness with Founding Members Art of Living Retreat Center and the Monaco Government Tourist Office.
We’ve had the pleasure of being a partner for the group and most recently attended their 2nd Annual Members Meeting at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. We couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring group of wellness-minded professionals coming together or a more inspiring setting!
What’s most exciting to me, is being a part of a group like this from the beginning. With 80+ members from 13 countries around the globe (from Australia to Brussels and Monaco to Thailand), the annual members meeting provided an intimate environment for 30+ of those members to share ideas, trends, new developments and discuss the future of the industry and how we can help to shape it.
Dr. Richard Carmona, Canyon Ranch Chief of Health Innovation, and 17th Surgeon General of the United States, spoke to how science has become currency and how a new focus on ‘precision wellness’ – hyper-personalized wellness that is prescribed based on an individual’s genetics – is leading the future.
Emlyn Brown, VP of Well-Being for Accor, gave his point of view on current and future trends in the space and discussed the why behind the massive rise of wellness that we’re seeing – wellness addresses fundamental human needs and, today, these needs are stronger than ever because of our unhealthy, modern lifestyle, failing healthcare systems, economic inequality and drive of technology.
Andrew Gibson, the Wellness Tourism Association Chairman, spoke to five different thoughts on the future of wellness tourism: forecasting domestic wellness tourism continuing to grow at a rapid pace and dominating international wellness tourism over the next five years; the medical industry and wellness industry finding more and more areas to overlap and merge; that collapsing healthcare systems around the world will redirect government focus on prevention and the marketing of wellness; and that data obsession will change our approach to experiences. He also warned not to get caught up in gimmicks – wellness has been out in the market for a long time and stressed that the foundational elements still work.
I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel to discuss who today’s wellness traveler is and how to reach them, sharing Hawkins International’s POV on the subject and plenty of examples from the luxury hospitality, travel and wellness clients we represent.
At a special farewell dinner, hosted by Canyon Ranch & Visit Tucson, we learned how wellness has shaped the region’s food culture and Tucson’s unique culinary scene. Tucson became the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy designated in the United States back in December of 2015, and the Tucson City of Gastronomy Board of Directors was formed the next year with a mission of “Growing a sustainable desert community by supporting our creative food cultures.” James Beard Award Winning Chef Janos Wilder of Tucson’s Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails is a founding Board Member, and led a conversation and demonstration of the principles related to this prestigious designation. Indulging in his famous cuisine and, of course, the local wines was an incredible way to wrap up what was a truly inspiring week.
Wellness will continue to shape and drive decisions (and revenue!) in the travel & hospitality space and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this ongoing conversation.
– Corey Finjer Bennett, Chief Operating Officer