A project to highlight the importance of health and wellbeing provision in tourism was showcased at a London event.
‘Destination Feelgood’, a collaborative project by Bournemouth University (BU) and the National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA), found that UK coastal resorts have enormous untapped tourism opportunities for health and wellbeing holidays. The project explored the gap in the market that the UK has for health and wellbeing holidays, working with local tourism businesses in the Dorset area to identify opportunities to offer such holidays.
The event, at the Royal Society for Public Health, brought a number of national tourism influencers together to raise the profile of the project on a national level and raise awareness of the gap in the market nationally.
A team from Bournemouth University led by Professor Heather Hartwell conducted part of the research that made up the project.
Speaking at the event, Heather Hartwell said, “Destination Feelgood helps businesses to look at a new way of promoting their business from a health and wellbeing perspective. Bournemouth University is the knowledge broker, running ideas cafes locally on marketing, food, and employee wellbeing, going out into the local community with businesses, sharing our research and discussing and debating health and wellbeing tourism with these businesses.”
Other speakers at the event included Jason Freezer, Interim Director of the NCTA; Christian Schneidar, the co-founder of Monty’s Lounge restaurant; and Andrew Woodland, the General Manager of Sandbanks Hotel. Both Monty’s Lounge and Sandbanks Hotel were involved in the ‘Destination Feelgood’ project.
Jason Freezer of the NCTA said, ““Wellness breaks are often only associated with spas, but today’s holidaymakers are seeking to do something with their down-time, whether that’s learning a new language, setting a new personal best in running or kayaking or becoming more spiritually aware.
“This project has identified a clear opportunity for coastal tourism businesses to steal a slice of this burgeoning sector.”
The project has been trialled in three Dorset towns with 80 visitor-facing businesses who met every three months for a year from 2014-15. ‘Ideas cafés’ were held in Dorchester, Weymouth and Bournemouth featuring guest speakers who gave insights into aspects of wellbeing. Businesses were given a chance to swap ideas, discuss new product development and explore marketing potential for health tourism.
Destination FeelGood has generated a number of new tourism initiatives. Heather continued, “One of our biggest successes was a B&B owner from Poole who came to one of our [BU-run] ideas cafes. Her B&B was on the cycle trailway with a high amount of visitors from France, but she didn’t have anywhere for them to store their bikes. Following our ideas café, she placed bike storage at her B&B and she now even has an alliance with a cycling club – her business has been transformed.”
The Bournemouth University team have plans to continue this research in the future too. Heather Hartwell says, “We are very fortunate to have won 500,000 Euros from the EU to work with partners across Europe to develop an app which will allow consumers to be more informed about what they are eating when they eat out. They will use the platform of Destination Feelgood to bring that app to the local area through the ideas cafes we run and take it forward.”