By Susie Ellis
By Susie Ellis
Marrakech – Indigenous healing traditions and wellness practices in developing countries are usually an untapped, and often misunderstood, economic growth opportunity in the form of tourism.
When the opportunity is recognized and seized, which is what is now happening in Morocco, it opens the floodgates for investment and can deliver a large number of wellness tourists, who, by the way, are “high-yield” tourist that spend on average 130% more per visit than other travelers. (SRI International. Global Wellness Tourism Economy, 2013)
The rich tradition of the Moroccan Hammam and the use of Argan Oil are probably the two biggest attractions at the moment. However, there is huge opportunity to go much beyond that by emphasizing other natural resources, like fig de barbarie, olives, roses, and even the desert sand settings and the climate in general. The refurbishment of Riads, including the addition of luxury spa experiences, is another example of smart development to attract global travelers to Morocco for health and wellness…a rejuvenating vacation is one of the most sought after treasures of all, these days.
The emergence of wellness tourism around the world has opened up a huge opportunity for countries whose governments are smart enough to understand the benefits of seizing this moment early and generating huge momentum for their country. In my opinion, Morocco is one of those countries whose vision has been out front about this. One need only look at the Kingdom’s 2020, vision to see that wellness tourism is called out as a primary focus.
And, that is why we were very happy to give the 2014, bid for the GSWS to Morocco. Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development (SMIT) sees an investment opportunity, which, in my opinion, illustrates their global leadership ability. They stepped up to be our key sponsor in bringing the Summit to Morocco, a world-class event ($2500 delegate attendee fee) that attracts global executive leaders from 40+ countries around the world. Four hundred of these spa and wellness VIPs will spend, on average, seven days in Morocco, bringing in significant tourism dollars. Also, because we shine a light on the country’s wellness tourism programs, the Moroccan wellness message will then be communicated around the globe through the media attention generated by the Summit.
India is a prime example of a developing country that used wellness tourism as a springboard to jumpstart their entire economy. Thirteen years ago India began touting its wellness tourism and have successfully doubled their inbound tourism. Its “Incredible India” campaign began in 2001, and it was a key factor in their inbound tourism jumping from 2.5 million visitors in 2001 to 5.4 million in 2008 and (6.8 million in 2013).
That ongoing campaign was rooted in wellness, with Ayurveda, meditation and yoga as their drawing cards and they now have some of the most unique spa offerings in the world. In addition, their hotel and resort developments are booming, as are incoming tourist numbers.
Two other good examples of this business plan are Switzerland and Austria, which have both used wellness tourism to attract the wellness-minded traveler and, at the same time, have been able to overcome seasonality by creating stunning spa establishments within their winter ski resorts. These resorts now attract tourism year round, as well as help boost tourism dollars during those years when the snow during ski season isn’t so reliable. This multiuse model is a brilliant idea that others are now emulating.
Here is the bottom line: If used strategically, hosting the Global Spa & Wellness Summit in Morocco will catapult the unique offerings of wellness and spa tourism in Morocco to a wide audience worldwide.
Susie Ellis, President and CEO of the Global Spa and Wellness Summit and president of SpaFinder Wellness, is a prominent writer, speaker and analyst and recognized as a leading global authority on spa and wellness. Author of SpaFinder’s annual Spa Trend Forecast and the popular Susie’s Spa and Wellness Blog, Ellis is the recipient of the prestigious International Spa Association’s 2012 Visionary Award and holds a MBA from UCLA.
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