Destination management: learn from the wellness sector

Tourist destinations can learn from the wellness industry and should become more aligned to its principles post-Covid, a World Travel Market London Insight session heard.

Speakers at WTM London agreed there had been a paradigm shift among consumers’ attitudes during the pandemic that destinations must now embrace, not just in how they deal with visitors, but also their own community.

Professor Terry Stevens of Stevens & Associates, a tourism futures specialist, said: “If wellness is the new zeitgeist, then destination management is the new Holy Grail for tourism. One of the things Covid did was expose the silliness of branding and the fragility of much of our forms of marketing. It put the spotlight on the way destinations behave. Traditional measures of volume and value will be shifting to the way people perceive you and the way destinations behave.”

Stevens added “Future thinking means radical left of field ideas becoming more mainstream. Just as wellness benefits the whole person, then tourism has to benefit the whole community. This means an emphasis on asset management, not marketing. We are entering a period of unprecedented experimentation. New ways of doing business will have to be found.”

Destinations have to recognise the true value of tourism to their community and how it benefits their population.

Anne Dimon of the Wellness Tourism Association stressed that a clean environment for locals as well as visitors, and quality of life for the community was a benefit of the tourism dollar, saying “People need to feel their tourism dollar is going to the local community. A selection of clean eating restaurants with local produce is a must.’’