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Why the Algarve could be missing out on a multibillion health tourism industry

The Algarve could be transformed into a ‘Mecca’ for health and wellness travel, benefitting from major investment linked to the booming €600Bn global health tourism industry.

This will be one of the key messages from the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference which will be held at the Hilton Vilamoura Resort on Friday, September 27.
Tourist development consultant Andrew Coutts who is helping to spearhead the conference said that worldwide ‘wellness tourism’ spend is on the rise and expected to pass €900Bn by 2022, representing 18% of the global tourism market, while the Global Wellness Institute predicts wellness tourism trips to grow by 8% annually reaching €1.2Bn by 2022.
One of Portugal’s leading tourism events, the conference will be attended by Algarve Region Tourism Board (RTA) President João Fernandes and Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) President Francisco Serra.
Other high-profile participants include the GSI Health & Wellness Exchange, Revive Clinic Algarve, Grupo HPA Saude, Longevity, Vale do Lobo, ASPA and Pine Cliffs Resort/UIP.
The event is being organised by the ILM Real Estate Group in association with the Ireland Portugal Business Network (IPBN) and Faro’s Dengun Digital Agency.
“The Algarve is on the cusp of a transformation linked to the fast expanding ‘health and wellness’ tourism industry”, says Coutts.
“Europe is currently topping the polls as the most popular destination for health and wellness travel, which is terrific news for the Algarve. Our region is in a prime position and already benefits from a bounty of natural assets with strong supply chains and potential support services in areas including technology, sustainable and innovation.
“It has all the ingredients to become a ‘Mecca’ for health and wellness travellers worldwide. However, the onus is now on the local market to work together to harness the opportunity by creating a robust plan for the years to come,” he added.
Andrew Coutts explains that the surge in ‘health and wellness’ is being influenced by a series of factors including an expanding global middle class and growing consumer demand for wellness lifestyles but warned that a “current disconnect within the Algarve business community risks limiting the pace of progress.”
The wellness industry burst into mainstream consumer consciousness a few years ago and has become a multi-billion-Euro industry with businesses and governments piling investment into new strategies, products, experiences, and destinations.
Wellness, hospitality, and travel are converging in diverse and unprecedented ways as businesses experiment with new partnerships and models to help travellers incorporate wellness into every aspect of their trips.
Coutts points out that: “The Algarve has perfect conditions for health, wellness and active travel as one of the sunniest destinations in Europe with easy access to beaches, oceans and countryside. This opens up opportunities for virtually all outdoor activities from water sports like surfing and kayaking to trail-running, hiking and restorative activities such as pilates and yoga. We are also witnessing a surge in professional sports related tourism with world class athletes and clubs increasingly looking to stage training camps in the Algarve”. 
“New opportunities being created by the health and wellness travel  movement will form the central theme at the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference, bringing together business leaders, decision makers, opinion-formers and experts from across the international tourism community. More than 25 speakers will share in-depth knowledge and help broaden understanding.”
The full-day conference will specifically address demand-side aspects of emerging tourism markets including current trends, case studies, potential source markets and ‘new consumer’ behaviour. A revolving panel of leading tourism and travel players, marketeers, technology experts, tourist lodging operators, real estate operators, hotel, resort and residential developers will further review business-related, supply side opportunities in the Algarve. 
Coutts said: “Every year health and wellness travellers spend more than €600billion globally,” he said. “This is distributed among many segments of the tourism industry — from food and lodging, to activities, excursions, shopping, and other services. Within each segment, some expenditures may include wellness-focused activities, such as visiting a hot spring, getting a massage, or taking a meditation or fitness class. Other expenditures may be ‘generic’, such as transportation, general food and lodging, or buying souvenirs. As more consumers incorporate wellness into their lifestyles, there are more opportunities for all businesses to capture a share of the spend from these high-value tourists.
“However, one of the weaknesses we have observed in the Algarve is the disconnect between key operators within the tourism sector, leading to missed opportunities. Greater communication and cooperation across the sector between these markets would be mutually beneficial, as tourists are a major source of real estate investors. Meanwhile, the medical tourism industry remains relatively untapped in our region. We are beginning to see new high-level facilities in the Algarve combining modern and regenerative medicine with advanced wellness and preventative diagnostics, therapies and programmes. This will be another area of major growth in the coming decades. But in order to fully capitalise on these ‘new tourism markets’ for ‘new times’ we must develop a more fluid and connected approach when positioning and packaging tourism products to new consumers.”
Algarve Region Tourism Board (RTA) President João Fernandes, who also leads the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA), said the region is becoming more competitive and better known for its quality and diversity.
“The Algarve Tourism Conference is fast becoming one of the most important events for our industry enabling public and private sector professionals to share knowledge and best practice,” he said. “Crucially, it provides a platform to discuss larger global trends and the future for our region including where the greatest opportunities lie.
“A key objective of the RTA and ATA is to unite companies working across the Algarve’s tourism sector. We want the industry to work more collectively with an ambitious and progressive vision showing that our region offers much more than just sunshine, beaches and golf. One of the ways we can achieve this is by increasing our networking capacity which is where events like the Algarve Tourism Conference prove invaluable.”
IPBN Chair Aoife Healy said the trade group is supporting the conference for the second year running. The fast-expanding international business network aims to stimulate trade and investment between Ireland and Portugal. It has doubled membership in the last 12 months as is supported by committees in Lisbon and the Algarve.
“We are delighted to be co-organising the second edition of the Algarve Tourism Conference as we look to build on momentum from the inaugural event last Autumn,” she said. “The 2019 event provides a terrific opportunity for businesses to learn more about the future of Portuguese tourism. We are encouraging all firms with an interest in the sector to register and get involved. Our nations are strongly aligned in many sectors alongside Tourism and Healthcare such as Technology, Renewable Energy and Agriculture. The IPBN is looking to stimulate greater levels of bi-lateral trade and we are particularly encouraging more Irish firms to capitalise on the attractive exporting and importing conditions in Portugal which has no tariffs or customs procedures.”
Stakeholders from across Portugal’s tourism sector are being encouraged to attend September’s conference, most notably tourism and travel entrepreneurs and innovators, travel trade and destination management company (DMC) professionals, resort, hotel and tourism development lodging managers and operators, real estate developers and investors, real estate managers and realtors.
For further information about the conference go to For information on tickets, sponsorship and exhibition space email or call 00351 969 196 055.

By Essential Business

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