Entrepreneurial branding through wellness tourism

That is why, in 2018, UNWTO explored the subject matter and gave some future guidelines to follow that include promoting ethical practices, ensuring quality standards, and fostering collaboration between the health and tourism sectors.

Health tourism is the umbrella term for the subtypes of wellness tourism and medical tourism, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

 It is proving that there is a perfect nexus between tourism activities and health.

No wonder there is a growing interest in health tourism research and practises around the globe.

That is why, in 2018, UNWTO explored the subject matter and gave some future guidelines to follow that include promoting ethical practices, ensuring quality standards, and fostering collaboration between the health and tourism sectors.

Our tourism entrepreneurs should be innovative in order to bring their operations and destinations at large into the same practice for brand vibrancy.

That is the same reason why destination, tourism, and national branding have become topical scholarly areas of research in the 21st century.

Where it is no longer a matter of branding through buildings such as hotels, food, scenic viewing, and other traditional tourism activities, but moving beyond the box towards innovative tourism.

There is an exponential growth in wellness and medical tourism.

This is in line with the contemporary move to infuse creative thinking, collaborations, critical thinking, and broadened communication between practising disciplines.

Here we expose a potential perfect fit between tourism entrepreneurship and health matters for total brand uplift.

In the advent of fast paced technologies that have made travelling for health and accessibility easier than ever before, we also need to come up with new tourism packages for our improved brand equity (that is, brand awareness, brand image, perceived brand quality, association, and brand loyalty).

Wellness tourism as the focus of this edition seems to be a low hanging fruit for branding our entrepreneurs in this sector.

You do not need to be a medical doctor as an entrepreneur in order to join this bandwagon, but you do need to be guided by a medical expert to come up with a wellness-related tourism product or service for a targeted group of potential customers.

Food is one product that has dominated as a connector to health for most tourism and hospitality brands globally.

Branding through organic food has taken the show, and most establishments are now being patronised because of these provisions.

Here, the entrepreneur should go the extra mile to collaborate with practising and qualified medical practitioners in order to agree on some critical consumption matters, like the nutritional value that is needed by a certain individual or group as health sensitive tourists.

As aforementioned, there is now a growing trend of travellers going around the globe for gastronomic health related tourism. At a local level, we have seen in our various societies most potential tourists associating themselves with traditional food consumption. These outlets have been branded as ultimate health traditional food providers. Therefore, more can be done for various types of food, especially when the entrepreneur works with nutritional and health specialists.

 Also, mental health matters are rising, calling for our tourism entrepreneurs to start thinking of no harm, inclusive, and therapeutic packages.

There is no specific solution to these matters, but through critical thinking and collaboration with our medical practitioners, some specific packages will be developed. Here, there is a need to lead a brand that is backed by conducive ambience and amenities for such achievement.

Being branded as a spiritual healer can improve the equity of our tourism businesses.

 Sporting is another component of health tourism, which our entrepreneurs in the sector can also provide as a package on its own.

There is a need to identify a specific sport(s) that contributes to wellness and for which age.

Not everyone can be a football player, and some sporting activities align with a stage in the life cycle (guided by demographic trends), thus calling for the entrepreneur to segment accordingly.

The above-mentioned packages are not exhaustive in terms of wellness, health, and medical tourism.

There are many linkages that can be made in order to develop a fully working value chain for health tourism.

One of the four  pillars for better skilling in the 21st century is collaboration, and in this case, a health tourism strategist should not do it alone but through working with and being advised by professional medical practitioners.

This helps not to overpromise and mislead potential tourists into even compromising their health through wrong practices in the name of tourism.

Some critical matters to consider when developing health tourism branding packages are:

Regulating boards’ requirements: There is a need to be well guided and authorised by the health medical board so as to eliminate any harmful causes through tourism activities. For instance, organic food provided should not be based on assumptions but should be lab tested in collaboration with nutritionists and medical specialists.

Clear Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): There is a need to develop well-integrated SOPs for the standardised provision of any type of health tourism, especially those guided by national boards and global certification organisations.

Technological intervention: The use of artificial intelligence (AI) can help in accurately aligning tourism matters with individual health that is based not only on social judgement but linked to one’s anatomy.

*Dr Farai Chigora is a businessman and academic. He is the head of management and entrepreneurship at the Africa University’s College of Business, Peace, Leadership and Governance. His doctoral research focused on business administration (destination marketing and branding major, Ukzn, SA). He is into agribusiness and consults for many companies in Zimbabwe and Africa. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback and business at [email protected], www.fachip.co.zw, WhatsApp mobile: +263772886871

*Dr Agnes Katsidzira is a primary healthcare professional. She holds an MBChB (UZ), a Diploma in HIV Management (SA), a Master of Science in Biostatistics and Epidemiology (MSU), and an Executive Masters in Business Administration. She is particularly interested in the medicine- business interface and how it can be leveraged to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes. She writes in her personal capacity and can be contacted for feedback at [email protected], WhatsApp mobile: +263773810296.

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