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GSS Research Finds $106 Billion Wellness Tourism Market Held Back by Conceptual Confusion: With Exclusive Commentary from Susie Ellis About What This Means for the Spa Industry

Posted: September 15, 2011

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"The question 'Where do spas fit?' is essentially answered in this report. Spas fit best under the umbrella term 'wellness tourism,' which ideally is kept separate from the 'medical tourism' category. (Medical spas could fit under either wellness tourism or medical tourism, depending on how much emphasis they put on the medical aspect of their businesses.)

"Here is why these findings are important to spas.

  1. Spas are moving toward being recognized and respected as a specific category separate from the medical community. As this sector grows, it gains power and influence.
  2. Increasingly, governments throughout the world (and some private entities) are investing money in promoting both medical tourism and/or wellness tourism. When the government promotes wellness tourism, it is promoting spas.
  3. By encouraging a separation between wellness tourism and medical tourism, it ensures that spas remain independent from the medical rules and regulations that would no doubt appear if only one body—for example a medical tourism or health tourism entity—were to govern spa tourism.
  4. One of the key recommendations in the report is that the medical tourism sector, in which hospitals and other medical establishments are found, supports wellness tourism and that the wellness tourism sector supports medical tourism. It is definitely a positive to have medical professionals throughout the world supporting wellness establishments (that includes spas where people can pursue enhancing their well-being.) In time, this could grow into a very congenial and beneficial partnership in helping people get and stay well.
  5. Some spas might benefit directly from the promotion of wellness and wellness tourism if they are in a location where there are a fair amount of tourists. If a spa has incorporated indigenous practices, it is even more likely that tourists would be interested in experiencing those spa services.
  6. This report is being used by governments throughout the world who are looking at developing their tourism sectors. It is helping them decide on vocabulary. As a result of the report, there is already a greater use of the terms 'medical tourism' and 'wellness tourism' separately, which, in the long run, will define our industry more clearly for consumers, the media, medical professionals and spa professionals.