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Editor’s NoteCamille Hoheb is an advisor, speaker, researcher and travel writer specializing in healthy adventures of mind, body and spirit, as well as the founder of Wellness Tourism Worldwide (WTW), an international business dedicated to improving well-being and economic growth through travel. Towards that end, she has been exploring the link between wellness and cultural tourism. What follows are her thoughts on the synergy, as well as input from several seasoned travel and tourism professionals.

Consider how the mega million-dollar wellness industry is changing consumer choices, expectations, experiences and the wide-ranging possibilities for wellness travel.

From air transit experiences focusing on better nutrition, sleep and comfort to health-focused hotels to the ubiquitous fitness resorts and destination spas, there’s no doubt that wellness is making its mark. Studies suggest that wellness travel is gaining momentum and expected to grow substantially over the next 10 years.

When one thinks of wellness, often “mind, body and spirit” are associated with the meaning. There are many definitions and models, some of which are broader in breadth, scope and interpretation. Take for example, the six domains of wellness based on intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, social and vocational aspects. Apply them to existing tourism products and opportunities multiply.

The challenge with any new trend is the need for a basic conceptual understanding and more and better information. “What Motivates YOU to Travel?” preliminary results of the US consumer travel survey, shows 80 percent of respondents felt that cultural tourism contributes to ones sense of well-being. Wellness and cultural travel bring life to areas such as engagement, intellectual stimulation, social exchange and learning.

Caroline Betata, CEO, Visit California, Sheila Armstrong, US Cultural Heritage Tourism Marketing Council, and Rosemary McCormick, Shop America Alliance, were interviewed to discus the link between wellness and cultural tourism.

Below are questions and answers about the synergy of wellness and cultural tourism in their own words.

Sheila Armstrong, US Cultural Heritage Tourism Marketing Council (www.uscht.com)

Camille Hoheb (CH): What are the social, emotional and intellectual benefits of cultural tourism?

Sheila Armstrong (SA): The cultural traveler is eager to learn about new destinations, explore and expand their knowledge of a particular interest or hobby. These interests range from automobiles to architecture, cultures to culinary, historic landmarks to heroes. These explorations result in increased education and knowledge, and contribute to the traveler’s satisfaction of achieving a better understanding or discovery of a new idea or insight. Excitement, inspiration and innovation are just some of the positive emotional and intellectual benefits that result from cultural and heritage tourism experiences. The social benefits include meeting new people and sharing these times with friends and family.

CH: How is cultural tourism an economic generator?

SA: Studies show that the cultural and heritage traveler is the most lucrative travel segment in the industry. These travelers stay longer, spend more and travel more frequently. A groundbreaking research, The Cultural & Heritage Traveler Study, was conducted in 2009 and revealed that more than three-quarters of all US leisure travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities while traveling, which translates into 118.3 million adults each year. Cultural and heritage travelers contribute $192 billion annually to the US economy.

Rosemary McCormick, Shop America Alliance (www.shopamericatours.com)

CH:How do shopping tours contribute to a traveler’s happiness, quality of life and/or sense of well-being? Please give examples.

Rosemary McCormick: Travelers are more relaxed and receptive to enjoying their vacation. They take the time to slow down and savor their time away from home, work and other day-to-day activities. They are prone to treat themselves to special purchases, unique meals and unique cultural experiences. They are apt to walk more and participate in physical activities, exploring new environments, and are invigorated by the newness and uniqueness of their vacation destination…. especially the outdoors activities.

Visitors also see this as a time to spend quality time with family and friends, to build lasting memories and create strong bonds. They value their vacation time as a time to de-stress, rest, laugh and reflect. It’s an opportunity to renew and to be inspired. The result is that they are re-energized when they return home.

Caroline Beteta, CEO, Visit California (www.visitcalifornia.com)

CH: How does Visit California promote cultural tourism to consumers in a manner that highlights social, emotional, physical or intellectual well-being?

Caroline Beteta: Cultural travel is a big reason why people come to California – whether it’s centers for world-class arts and culture like San Diego’s Maritime Museum, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Symphony or somewhere in between. California also has a rich Gold Rush history that lives on in the colorful communities of the Sierra Foothills, where visitors can still pan for gold while exploring the old towns that helped establish our state: Nevada City, Auburn and the state’s capital, Sacramento.

California is the place for both emotional and physical well-being with an abundance of exceptional health spas and wellness centers. Visitors can settle in for a day of pampering at The Golden Door or get in touch with their spiritual side at the Mahakankala Buddhist Center in Santa Barbara. In addition, the Golden State is Mother’s Nature’s playground! We’re home to towering redwoods, majestic mountains, rivers, deserts, lakes and of course more than 1,100 miles of coastline. Visitors can be in touch with nature on every step of their trip.

We also work with Shop CA and The Cultural Traveler to promote tours that combine cultural experiences in every one of the state’s tourism regions, with shopping and dining offers. These packages give visitors the chance to enjoy treasured cultural and heritage experiences as part of a broader vacation experience.

CH: Thank you to our industry experts for their expertise and contribution to this article.
In summary, because wellness means many things to many people, travel suppliers, sellers and destinations have a wide berth to deliver a variety of salient, meaningful and memorable wellness travel experiences.

More information on the results of the “What Motivates YOU to Travel?” survey will be published in an upcoming edition of Medical Travel Today. For more information visit:www.wellnesstourismworldwide.com

About Camille Hoheb
Camille Hoheb is an advisor, speaker, researcher and travel writer specializing in healthy adventures in mind, body and spirit. Ms. Hoheb is the Founder of Wellness Tourism Worldwide (WTW), dedicated to improving well-being and economic growth through travel. WTW provides research, education, development and promotion of well-being travel experiences. She earned her Master’s degree in Health Care Administration, holds several certifications from the National Institute of Health and has held several advisory positions in health tourism and spa publications Ms. Hoheb has lectured in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America, authored many articles and has been quoted in a wide variety of publications. www.camillehoheb.com

For a free download of the “Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2013”, please go towww.wellnesstourismworldwide.com

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