WTM massages health tourism, spas
A groundbreaking initative that aims to make English the international language for the spa industry gets its first airing at World Travel Market this year.
The presentation forms part of the programme for World Travel Market' Spa, Health and Wellness focus, now in its second year.
Robert Czik – managing director of spa product manufacturer SpaFind Skincare – will unveil details of a new spa training college being set up in Kent, England.
The school is a joint project between SpaFind and the Bell International Language School, working in partnership with the British International Spa Association (BISA), of which Czik is treasurer.
The plan is to get international spa operators from the Middle East and across the world to send their therapists to the UK to improve their technique.
They hope it will appeal to large hotel groups, such as Hyatt, but also national spa associations in regions such as the Middle East.
The initiative has already won over spa industry bosses in China, who are keen to build the treatment sector to aid their tourism development.
At the end of November the school is expecting to welcome its first batch of overseas students – 35 would-be therapists from Japan – who will tour UK spa facilities, learn more about England's spa history, and brush up their language skills.
BISA's aim is to develop best practice standards that go beyond the individual group training schemes, so this is a way of spreading the word.
World Travel Market's Health and Wellness focus is a reflection of the phenomenal growth of spa holidays. Research shows that the industry has grown 40 per cent in the past three years alone.
The sheer size of the market is mind-boggling! There are now more spas in the US alone (15,699) than there are Starbucks coffee shops in the world (13,728).
World Travel Market is featuring three seminars on the subject which I think will be of real interest to many TTN readers, as well as a World Travel Market's information point and spa activities by exhibitors on their stands.
As I am sure many of know, the world of spas is becoming increasingly bizarre, even though it is seeing the biggest growth sector in travel.
Discerning clients have an ever-increasing choice of resorts around the world, with the Far East rapidly becoming a centre of excellence. And yet spas have become an essential part of the holiday market.
There are two definite trends. The first is for spas to align themselves with big brands such as ESPA. They can buy the products in bulk and get a whole regime of support, including staff training.
There is also a trend towards the exotic. Creating new products sets you apart. Spas often look to the local culture, say using coconut milk in the Caribbean, to add an element of ethnicity to their offering.
New treatments are being offered all the time, usually with a form of evidence that it does some good.
They may be quite bizarre, but with the plethora of procedures available some will stick and get taken on into the mainstream. Alternatively, these 'unique' products will stay niche and have a novelty value.
And with an increasing demand by consumers for alternative self help ways of keeping body and mind healthy, there is no doubt this is a blossoming business opportunity for the industry.
(Fiona Jeffery is Chairman, World Travel Market. WTM runs from November 12 to 15).
This Travelling World by Fiona Jeffery