14 April 2013

Sustainability and Eco-health tourism

Sustainability and Eco-health tourism

Robert S. Bristow

Over the millennia, travel to foreign lands to soak in mineral waters has been popular for the privileged (Bookman and Bookman, 2007; Connell, 2011; Mitman, 2003; Reisman, 2010; Towner, 1996; TRAM, 2006). Long sought for their medicinal values, mineral springs have attracted visitors for thousands of years. And access to these resources has been possible through advances in transportation and a growing middle class that fuelled further interest in the experience of the holiday to escape the urban environment (Gilbert, 1949). The travel continues today as evidenced by the popularity of the historic mineral waters found at Saratoga Springs in the USA, Bath, England and Baden-Baden, Germany.

Yet today these tourists are seeking not only a bath and massage, but may also want cosmetic surgery or a knee replacement (Goodrich and Goodrich, 1987; Goodrich, 1993a; Hall, 1992; Hall, 2003). Fed by the interest to improve oneself, be pampered, or address some health concern, health travel is likely to continue in the future. Lunt and others (n.d.) found four consequences for the emergence of the international health market: large numbers of people travelling for treatment, the shift of tourists from more developed nations to less developed ones, the rise of information via the Internet, and public and private infrastructure development to promote tourism.

Health Tourism is the umbrella term for all tourist aspects of health, wellness and medical care (Smith and Puczkó, 2009). For example, Hall (1992) notes that health tourism may be appropriately viewed on a continuum from a sun and fun vacation to the need to seek a major medical operation. Progressing along this continuum the number of tourists decreases (Hall, 2003).

introduction of paper to be published in 

Sustainability in Tourism: A Multidisciplinary Approach, edited by Ian Jenkins & Roland Schröder, Springer Gabler July 2013.

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