Global Wellness Summit’s 10th anniversary conference to convene in the cradle of wellness tourism in Austria
The 10th anniversary conference of the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) will be held in the European cradle of wellness tourism, Kitzbühel in Tyrol, Austria, from October 17-19. Delegates, including leaders and visionaries from the US$ 3.4 trillion global wellness industry, will be given the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in what many consider the most important wellness experience of all: the splendour of nature.
Nestled in the Austrian Alps, Kitzbühel is an authentic, medieval city and one of Austria’s best-known year-round sports resorts – home of World Cup ski races in the winter, ATP Tennis in the summer and, increasingly, a year-round destination as emphasised by its popular Kitzbühel 365 campaign.
Tyrol puts wellness at the centre of its economy, and holds a unique place in wellness history as a pioneer, bringing people and businesses together to promote a region’s distinct health-focused offerings. It’s the location of the first wellness hotel collaboration begun 30 years ago; 15 years ago Tyrol introduced the idea of forming a wellness cluster bringing together public and private partners to use their synergies to increase competitiveness and inspire innovation. This model has since been emulated in other parts of the world and Cluster Wellness Tirol now boasts a member network of more than 120 wellness businesses.
“Tyrol, Austria is an amazing example of a destination that has centered its tourism initiatives around wellness, transforming the region from a single season, ski-only destination to a year-round wellness destination. The region has what wellness seekers want: natural surroundings full of remarkable beauty, fresh air, clean water, great, authentic, local cuisine and plenty of outdoor space to stay active and in touch with nature,” says Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO, GWS.
She adds, “This inspirational environment will no doubt help fuel transformative thought leadership about the future of wellness during the Summit. I can’t think of a better venue for our 10th
anniversary Summit – a kind of Wellness Davos.”
Sponsors responsible for attracting the 2016 GWS to Kitzbühel, Tyrol, Austria include Tirol Werbung, Tourism Board Kitzbühel and Wirtschaftskammer Tirol.
“Bringing the premiere wellness conference to Tyrol is extremely gratifying for our region and will help us put a global spotlight on something we started decades ago: wellness tourism. We look forward to welcoming the international community and exploring the exciting opportunities for the future of our remarkable region that offers so much of what people are looking for these days: the ability to slow down, get away and immerse in nature and joys of life,” says Günther Platter, governor of Tyrol.
This year’s summit theme, “Back to the Future,” will give participants a unique perspective on the future of wellness and spa, while also showcasing Europe and Austria’s historic contributions.
During the summit, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) will publish updated research on the global, ten-sector wellness economy, currently valued at US$ 3.4 trillion (three times the size of the worldwide pharmaceutical industry). A key component of the wellness economy is wellness tourism, valued at nearly US$ 500 billion globally. According to the GWI, Austria ranked #1 in wellness travel revenues per capita in 2014, making it the fifth-largest market in the world with a modest population of eight million. And Tyrol alone had a record-breaking more than 11 million guest arrivals in 2015, a remarkable achievement for a region with fewer than a million full-time residents. Data released at the press conference revealed that Austria’s wellness tourism trips (domestic and international combined) grew 11.8 per cent in the last two years – from 12.1 million trips in 2013 to 13.5 million in 2015 – outpacing Austria’s overall growth in tourism trips by an impressive 86 per cent.
The summit itself will drive more than 2,000 overnight stays in and around the Kitzbühel area. As a measure of the summit’s value, last year’s conference in Mexico City recorded estimated revenues of €1.35 million for the host region, while international media coverage was valued at €2.8 million. Each year’s Summit grows in size and influence, and this has resulted in the establishment of a bidding process for the countries, cities, regions or businesses interested in bringing the global conference to their area.
This year’s event is co-chaired by two members of the GWS board of directors: Susan Harmsworth MBE, founder of ESPA, the internationally-recognised luxury spa brand and Dr Franz Linser, founder and managing director of international consulting firm Linser Hospitality. Linser, an Austrian native, was fundamental in establishing Cluster Wellness Tirol.
The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) is an invitation – only international gathering that brings together leaders and visionaries to positively shape the future of the US$ 3.4 trillion global wellness industry. Held in a different location each year, the Summit attracts delegates from all over the world. Summits have taken place in the US, Switzerland, Turkey, Bali, India, Morocco and Mexico City.