The popularity of health tourism is on the rise, according to research by the Innovations and Learning in Spa Management project (ILIS), coordinated by the Turku University of Applied Sciences. The range of spa and wellness travel services has increased rapidly in central Europe but Finnish spas have been slower to develop their offering. The ILIS Project has examined the views of both spa management and customers on how the sector should be developed, and compiled the results into virtual educational modules.
The future growth areas in the travel sector seem to be health tourism, stress alleviation, fitness, as well as occupational health and security. According to Liisa Renfors from the Finnish Tourist Board, Finland’s strengths include opportunities for relaxation in calm surroundings, enjoying physical exercise in scenic nature – and the sauna. These are the main elements on which the current offering of basic wellness holidays and the health and exercise holidays is based. Recent years have also seen the emergence of pampering holidays on the market.
According to the ILIS Project, the customers’ interest in being pampered seems to have lessened and demand is now directed more towards treatments promoting good health. Responding to this trend requires closer cooperation between the spas and research centres, and the utilisation of multidisciplinary know-how.