Media Contact: Beth McGroarty
[email protected] • +1.213.300.0107

Global Wellness Institute Roundtable in Wales Attracts High-Level Government, Academic and Private Sector Leaders

Experts Identified Seven “Next Steps” to Make Wales a Wellness Leader among Small Nations

Swansea, Wales – August 17, 2015 – The Global Wellness Institute™ (GWI) recently held its first roundtable in the small, but innovative, nation of Wales, and today released what the 37 leaders that gathered identified as key interventions that could make Wales a leader in wellness among small nations.  

Read the full report and participant list here: Roundtable Reports

The July 14 event attracted medical, policy and business professors and researchers from Swansea University and ABM and Hywel Dda University health boards; government dignitaries across health, social services, culture and tourism; and private- and third-sector leaders from fields as diverse as science, hospitality and the performing arts. Organized by Professor Terry Stevens (an international tourism consultant), in partnership with the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University’s Medical School, this was the GWI’s second roundtable in Europe and sixth in the world.

The agenda included research presentations on Wales’ powerful opportunities in the £2.2 trillion ($3.4 trillion)* multi-sector global wellness industry—and within the fast-growing, £281.6 billion ($494 billion) wellness tourism market, as the modern traveler increasingly seeks nature, peace and cultural authenticity. 

Professor Stevens noted, “This represented the first time that such a wide range of sectors and disciplines came together to discuss wellness in Wales.” And recent legislation shows what a big innovator in health and wellness this very small nation (of 3.1 million people) already is. For instance, in April Wales passed the “Well-being of Future Generations Act”, the first in the world to mandate that the economic, social, cultural, environmental and physical wellbeing of future generations must be considered in every decision that its government bodies make. 

Dr. Ruth Hussey, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, explained how the relationship between “health and wealth” is now of paramount importance to the country, which is “aspiring to higher goals, and striving for a stronger economy with healthier people”.

Interventions to Make Wales a Wellness Leader

  1. Train New Generation of Life Scientists in Wellness
    Given the galloping costs of the Welsh NHS and spiking chronic disease in the population, the experts agreed Wales has an especially critical need to stop putting so much emphasis on treating disease, and start focusing on preventing it, by training a new generation of life scientists around evidence-based wellness approaches.
  2. Spur Inter-governmental & Public-Private Collaborations
    Large nations with vast, siloed policy departments can’t be as collaborative as a small country like Wales. Professor Marc Clement, vice president of Swansea University and chair of its Institute of Life Science, argued that the country has a unique opportunity to create “collaborative health and wellness initiatives across public, private and voluntary sectors, and across disciplines such as medicine, youth work, sport, hospitality and community and public health.”
  3. Embrace Comprehensive Concept of Wellness
    Many public health initiatives focus narrowly on physical wellness, but Wales is already taking a comprehensive approach with its groundbreaking “Well-being of Future Generations Act”.  Dr. Hussey argued that the “five ways to wellness: connecting with others, being physically active, ongoing learning, mindfulness and giving” need to be further “operationalized” in Wales. And for this rural, aging country (one in five people are 65-plus), community health initiatives that tackle loneliness and isolation are crucial. 
  4. Develop Wellness Tourism for World That Increasingly Craves What Wales Offers
    Given that the two most powerful tourism trends are people seeking 1.) uniquely authentic experiences, and 2.) healthy-for-me-and-the-planet experiences, Wales has natural resources (from incredible, undeveloped space for hiking, cycling and adventure, to a distinct Celtic culture and language) that the world traveler increasingly seeks. Dr. Franz Linser (director, Linser Hospitality and board member, Global Wellness Summit) argued, “The luxuries of the future will be invisible: time, silence and space”. And these uniquely Welsh wellness tourism assets need to be protected, developed and promoted. 
  5. Bring Life Science & Tourism Together
    Wales has an opportunity to create a new type of “hybrid” medical-wellness resorts, which would be immersive, wellness-focused hospitality destinations adjacent to hospitals. These public/private wellness “communities,” with a keen focus on lifestyle change, would benefit Welsh citizens and attract international tourists. And such a hospital-hospitality resort is already developing as a concept in Swansea. 
  6. Focus on Everyday “Settings”
    Welsh policymakers need new wellness campaigns/ideas focused on the places where people spend the vast majority of their time: at work, in cities/towns and in schools. For instance, the country could innovate “wellness schools,” which would offer children everything from organic food to meditation training to far more physical fitness. 
  7. Appoint a Minister of Wellness
    Wales should consider creating a Minister of Wellness who would work alongside the Health Minister and Minister for Economy, Science and Transport to accelerate coordinated wellness initiatives at the national and local level – from health policy to tourism. 

To learn more about the GWI, contact Beth McGroarty: [email protected] or (+1) 213- 300-0107

To learn more about the roundtable at Swansea University, contact the Institute of Life Science team: [email protected].

About the Global Wellness Institute: The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) is an international think-tank that brings together leaders and visionaries from private and public sectors to positively impact and shape the future of the wellness industry. The GWI is considered the leading global research and educational resource for the $3.4 trillion wellness industry., the first online portal to the medical evidence for common wellness approaches, is also a GWI initiative.

About the Institute of Life Science (ILS): The ILS is the research, enterprise and innovation arm of Swansea University’s Medical School. Valued at £100 million, the ILS is Wales’ premier purpose-built medical research facility and is a collaboration between Swansea University, the Welsh Government, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board, and industry and business partners. It is the single largest investment ever made by the Welsh Government on any university campus. The ILS advances medical science through multi- and inter-disciplinary research and innovation for the benefit of human health, and links those benefits to the economy by encouraging interaction with other organisations in a spirit of Open Innovation.

*Global Wellness Institute, “Global Spa & Wellness Economy Monitor,” 2014