The Global Wellness Tourism Congress (GWTC) falls under the umbrella of the Global Wellness Institute and brings together public and private stakeholders to chart the course of the rapidly growing wellness tourism sector.
The GWTC is held annually in conjunction with the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) and aims to bring together ministers of tourism and other wellness tourism thought-leaders to shape the best strategies to promote and grow this fast-emerging travel category.
The inaugural GWTC was held on Saturday, October 5, 2013 in New Delhi, India. It was at this first-ever global conference on wellness tourism where the groundbreaking study conducted by SRI International, The Global Wellness Tourism Economy report, was unveiled. The study is the first to benchmark and analyze this fast-emerging tourism segment and, according to SRI, is expected to be eye-opening for governments and tourism industry stakeholders worldwide. Key findings of the study can be found at this link.
The second annual GWTC, which took place in Marrakech, Morroco on September 10, 2014, delivered insights into this $494 billion USD market and focused on how the spa & wellness industry can help drive the recognition of its importance both at global and national levels. Some highlights included:
- Yolanda Perdomo, Director of the UNWTO Affiliate Members Programme, discussing significant international tourism trends and their relation to wellness tourism.
- Peter Greenberg, renowned travel editor for CBS news, will be taping his radio show onsite, interviewing thought leaders, moderating a panel of tourism ministers, and taking an extensive look at wellness tourism and how the industry can capitalize on this trend.
- Jean-Claude Baumgarten, former president, World Travel & Tourism Council, will share the stage with Peter Greenberg to discuss wellness tourism’s impact.
- Ministers of Tourism from a collection of countries will also be on hand to discuss the impact that wellness tourism is having on their regions.
At the 2014 GWTC, the Global Wellness Institute released updated data (see Global Spa & Wellness Economy Monitor report) that showed that wellness tourism continues to be one of the fastest-growing travel categories: revenues expanded from $438 billion in 2012 to $494 billion in 2013 – and that 12.7 percent growth rate was 40 percent larger than originally forecast. And wellness tourism also grew 74 percent faster than global tourism overall in the last year (14.6 percent versus 7.3 percent).
Attendees include government ministers of tourism, health and economic development; CEOs of private companies; leaders and visionaries in related arenas such as medical tourism; and other industry VIPs who present data, engage in open dialogue and map the future of wellness tourism.
Format and Agenda
Expectations are that wellness tourism (defined as “travel to pursue activities that maintain or enhance health and wellbeing”) will increasingly reshape travel as we know it. As more and more people pay attention to their health, they want to put aside the traditionally unhealthy aspects of travel (overindulging in food and drink, interrupted sleep patterns, disruption of exercise routine, etc.) and embrace healthier business and leisure travel. In addition, a growing segment of travelers are taking trips specifically focused on improving their personal health and wellbeing. In short, more travel is moving from unhealthy to healthy, making wellness tourism a travel niche predicted to grow nearly 50% more than global tourism through 2017.
Click on photos to watch videos from the 2013 Global Wellness Tourism Congress.
Spirit of the GWTC
The “spirit” of the GWTC is one of shared purpose versus individual gain. It is an opportunity to put aside competitive egos and personal business agendas and spend time joining together and shaping the future of the spa and wellness industries. Modeled in part after the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the GWTC brings together ministries of tourism and leaders in tourism, health and economic development from around the world. All contribute time and resources to fund the Congress, and all attendees are asked to refrain from self-promotion. The “Spirit of the Congress” ensures that we exchange ideas, debate, and strategize for the good of our industry, the consumers we serve, and the planet we share.
Countries & Regions Promoting Wellness Tourism
Please see a list of countries & regions that are currently promoting wellness tourism here.
Global Wellness Tourism Roundtables
The Global Wellness Tourism Congress (GWTC) held its first roundtable at the Dorchester, London on April 1, 2014. The invite-only event attracted leaders from within the Finnish, Greek, Moroccan, Portuguese, Spanish, Swiss and UK tourism ministries and organizations, as well as executives from powerful travel and healthcare establishments like The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Bupa, the global healthcare group.
GWTC Roundtable in London, United Kingdom [/caption]