Algarve has the potential to grow health tourism

Ahead of the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference, Andrew Coutts, CEO of the ILM Tourism & Hospitality Real Estate Group Portugal, has urged the region to join forces and create a sustainable development plan to harness the full potential of the global wellness movement.

“The Algarve is on the cusp of a transformation linked to the fast expanding ‘health and wellness’ tourism industry,” Mr Coutts said. “Europe is currently topping the polls as the most popular destination for health and wellness travel, which is terrific news for the Algarve. Our region is in prime position and already benefits from a bounty of natural assets with strong supply chains and potential support services in areas including technology, sustainability and innovation. It has all the ingredients to become a ‘Mecca’ for health and wellness travellers worldwide. However, the onus is now on the local market to work together and harness the opportunity by creating a robust plan for the years to come.

Mr Coutts said the surge in ‘health and wellness’ travel is being influenced by a series of factors including an expanding global middle class and growing consumer demand for wellness lifestyles. A rising interest in experiential travel and increasing affordability of flights and travel options are pushing demand. And while the Algarve’s market potential remains undimmed Mr Coutts says current disconnects within the local business community risk limiting the pace of progress.

Mr Coutts goes on to say “One of the weaknesses we have observed in the Algarve is the disconnect between key operators within the tourism sector, leading to missed opportunities. Greater communication and cooperation across the sector between these markets would be mutually beneficial, as tourists are a major source of real estate investors. Meanwhile, the medical tourism industry remains relatively untapped in our region. We are beginning to see new high-level facilities in the Algarve combining modern and regenerative medicine with advanced wellness and preventative diagnostics, therapies and programmes. This will be another area of major growth in the coming decades. But in order to fully capitalise on these ‘new tourism markets’ for ‘new times’ we must develop a more fluid and connected approach when positioning and packaging tourism products to new consumers.”

Algarve Region Tourism Board (RTA) President João Fernandes, who also leads the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA), said the region is becoming more competitive and better known for its quality and diversity.

Mr Fernandes said; “A key objective of the RTA and ATA is to unite companies working across the Algarve’s tourism sector. We want the industry to work more collectively with an ambitious and progressive vision showing that our region offers much more than just sunshine, beaches and golf. One of the ways we can achieve this is by increasing our networking capacity which is where events like the Algarve Tourism Conference prove invaluable.”