Earlier this year a group of US wellness industry executives launched the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA), the first of its kind association aimed at promoting wellness tourism. One of their main aims is to agree on an industry-approved set of definitions of what constitutes wellness tourism and wellness travel.
Based in Denver Colorado, USA, the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) is a not-for-profit business, privately held and designed to serve the industry with the creation of networking, educational, and marketing opportunities. Members must meet a set of criteria and must qualify annually and pay a membership fee.
The WTA offers membership to destination marketing organisations, hotels, resorts, destination spas, tour operators, travel advisors, wellness educators and others with an interest in supporting the industry.
It aims to educate consumers and help define the industry as a whole. It also wants to unite all the various categories that fall under the umbrella of wellness tourism for a common purpose: the benefit and sustainability of the industry for the ultimate good of all, including the consumer.
The founding members are Andrew Gibson of Accor Hotels; Jim Forberg of Unicomm; Anne Dimon of Travel to Wellness, Tom Klein, of USA destination spa Canyon Ranch; Madeleine Marentette, founder of Canada’s Grail Springs Retreat Centre for Wellbeing; and Nilendu Srivastava, of The Art of Living Retreat Centre in North Carolina, USA.
The association’s first tourism board member is the Monaco Government Tourist Office. US-based New Life Hiking Spa signed up as one of the first retreat members; the first tour operator to join is Sojourn Bicycling and Active Vacations.
One of the first aims is to agree on an industry-approved set of definitions of what constitutes wellness tourism and wellness travel. Definitions are an effective way to create standards and credibility in a field that is global, broad and attractive to many operators and companies seeking a competitive edge.
This means seeking to create clear-cut criteria of the definition of a destination spa versus a resort spa, and defining wellness retreats, wellness travel and wellness vacations.
Many other types of travel and vacation options can also fit the realm of wellness tourism when and where there is a secondary benefit of wellness attributed to the journey. This includes walking tours, hiking, cycling, kayaking, yoga, meditation sessions, spa treatment and healthy culinary activities.
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