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South African Spa Industry Matures

Denis Gathanju May 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
Librisa Spa treatment room

Indigenous essences are often used in the services offered at Librisa Spa.

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With stress levels progressively rising during the past few months as world economies shrink and jobs are lost in record numbers, spas have provided an oasis of comfort and relaxation for many throughout the world.

The situation has been no different in South Africa, as the continent’s largest economy bore the full brunt of the economic slowdown. But the spa industry in South Africa has remained strong and continues to show great growth potential as the nation draws closer to hosting the Fédération Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) World Cup for soccer in June and July of 2010.

“Sure, the economy has generally not performed well during the past few months. At first, people were hesitant to book appointments at a spa, considering it to be more of a luxury than a necessity, but then our clients realized that discovering a way to find peace and calm became a necessity. This, I guess, is what has been the determining factor that has helped the industry survive the economic downturn,” notes Katy Low, director of Zau Spa in the small township of Cullinan, sandwiched between Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Growth and development

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Librisa Spa Interior

Librisa Spa interior

The South African Spa Association

Formed less than two years ago, the South African Spa Association is an initiative geared toward not only merging synergies in the South African spa industry by bringing together the spas and wellness centers scattered throughout the country, but also to build a strong voice for the industry, according to Nadine de Freitas, executive director. The organization also wants to help raise the standards in terms of service provision and delivery, while at the same time injecting a level of professional ethics into the fledgling industry.

According to de Freitas, “The industry has flourished during the years to about 200 large spas, and an additional 300 smaller day spas. Because of this, it has been able to contribute to the South African economy by employing more than 2,500 people and contributing approximately $47 million last year.”

The South African Spa Association, notes Freitas, is the ambassador of the industry in South Africa. It is also mandated to, among other roles, educate the spa visitor about the benefits of a spa experience in South Africa; set the guidelines and standards for the establishment of a spa while at the same time ensuring that spas meet the threshold of quality control; create partnerships within allied associations; provide networking opportunities for members; and issue membership certificates.

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