Health and Wellness Tourism Today 


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is “a state

of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the complete

absence of disease or infirmity.” In accordance with this definition, wellness

can be equated with health. Health and wellness involves several well-being

dimensions including physical, mental, social, sexual, emotional, cultural, 

spiritual, educational, occupational, financial, ethical and existential

dimensions.

This article represents an attempt to develop an understanding of current health

and wellness tourism around the world.

The aims are to:

•clarify concepts because of the usual incipiency and lack of conceptual rigor regarding health and wellness tourism;

•qualify procedures and patient safety as crucial factors;
•importance of destination branding.


Brief History: Health and Wellness

Past ancestors: Ayurvedic Medicine (India, 3000 BC); Chinese Medicine (Emperor Sheng Nung, 2038–2698 BC); Thai Traditional Medicine; Japanese Onsen; Russian Steam Bath; Tell el Amarna Therms (Egypt, 1350 BC); Greek Thalassa (Hippocrates, 460–355 BC); Roman Thermae/Balnea Publica (II BC–III AC); Arabian Medicine (8th-15th century, Al Razi 850–923); Turkish Haman; Dead Sea Salts Baths; Egyptian Mansuri Hospital (Cairo, 1248) – Travellers came from all over the world; Native American Sweat Lodge; Mexican Temazcalli; Australian Aboriginal Steam Baths; Mineral Springs in Spa near Liége (14th); Climatotherapy (XVIII/XIX Centuries) in Madeira and Canarias Islands; Scientific Medicine (19th century). 


Recent years: 1959 – Inauguration of Golgen Door Spa, in California; 1987 – Official beginning of the Global SPA industry – SpaFinder Magazine; 1991 – International SPA Association – ISPA (USA); 1996 – European SPA Association

"In health and wellness tourism, quality/excellence, safety and ethics are deeply connected."


– ESPA (Brussels); 1998 – Guide of the 100 Best SPAS of the World; 2003 – Spa Asia Magazine; 2007 – Medical Tourism Association – MTA, USA; 2007 – I Congress on Medical Tourism Worldwide, Munich; 2008 – I International Health Tourism Congress, Turkey – Association of Improving Health Tourism; 2008 onward -- Congress took place in different cities in Turkey; 2008 – First Annual World Medical Tourism Association Congress; 2008 onward -- Congress took place in different cities in USA; 2010/2012 – Annual European Medical Travel Conference (EMTC) – Venice, Barcelona, Berlin; 2012 – I International Conference on Health and Tourism, Faro, Portugal; 2013 – International Medical Travel Exhibition and Conference, Monaco; 2014 – II International Congress on Health and Tourism, Albufeira, Portugal.


Emergent Paradigms on Health and Medicine

Preventive Medicine – promotes healthy lifestyles and diets, stress management, intellectual stimulation and fitness with a focus on wellness assessments versus illness.

Predictive Medicine – individual health promotion based on diagnostics of genetic and environmental determinants.

Holistic Medicine – whole-being, meaning physical well-being, mental awareness and wisdom, spiritual harmony and equilibrium.

Integrative Medicine – brings together orthodox Western medicine/Allopathic and other Eastern holistic medicines – Chinese, Ayurvedic and Indigenous knowledge and environmental consciousness. Integrative medicine emphasizes wellness, wholeness and a preventive approach to health. Western medicine is based on an illness model concerned with treating disease rather than enhancing wellness.

Anti-Aging medicine that combines all those preceding paradigms.


Definition: Health and Wellness Tourism

Health and wellness tourism includes travelling both nationally and internationally to places and facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, thermae, thalasso, wellness SPAs, and fitness centers and wellness resorts.

"In 2012, it was estimated that a million medical tourists travelled around the world for outbound/ inbound medical tourism.

The purpose of health and wellness tourism is medical care and health, beauty, relaxation, recovery and rehabilitation treatments. There are more than a hundred-million health and wellness tourists around the world each year. Health and wellness tourism includes medical tourism, elderly age tourism, disability tourism, thermal tourism and thalasso-therapy tourism.


Wellness Tourism

Wellness tourism includes consumers who travel to maintain their well-being and life satisfaction through the experiences of healthy treatments. Wellness has to do with quality of life. In a holistic approach to health (Chinese, ayurvedic and integrative medicines), wellness treatments and therapies restore the vital balance among bodies, mind, and spirit toward equilibrium and health harmony. This harmony re-balances and restores the energy flow bringing about overall well-being.

Health and Wellness Tourism Today 

JOÃO VIEGAS FERNANDES AND FILOMENA MAURÍCIO VIEGAS FERNANDES  

Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013 


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