Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Tourism/wellness Connection

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

The Tourism/wellness Connection

Article excerpt

"Summertime, and the livin' is easy." Vacation travelers hit the road and the major tourist season is in full swing. Some travelers may be seeking "Far away places with strange sounding names," while others choose to pursue camping and hiking as they explore the wonders of nature. As one who personally embraces dynamic wellness as a lifestyle, I wondered how or if the tourism professionals considered wellness as a part of tourism. While enroute home from a recent recreation/tourism conference, I decided to query Dr. Jeffrey B. Zeiger, director of the Center for the Advancement and Study of Tourism at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota, on this topic.

This dialogue focuses on ways an individual might enjoy being a tourist while maintaining or enhancing what is already a healthful lifestyle. But first let's see what we mean by a wellness lifestyle and tourism.


The wellness concept embraces an energetic, dynamic approach to health. It centers upon individuals taking charge of their health. it means much more than freedom from disease. Wellness can have a distinctively personal approach, attitude, or mind-set. Wellness is a personally developed growth process that is ever-changing; a plan leading toward health and well-being. Wellness is a matter of personal responsibility and choice and may be demonstrated by physical development, positive use of the mind, acceptance of the importance of daily activity, constructive management of stress energy and emotions, environmental sensitivity, ability to have productive relations with other people and a developing sense of inner peace and security. Wellness has become a way of life for many who believe that they are in charge of their destiny and make choices accordingly.

While tourism may promote the better known physical fitness aspects of wellness, the lesser known are equally worthy of attention. How might a lifestyle of dynamic wellness be accommodated or, better, enhanced as people travel? Many choose to become tourists on weekend or vacation time. Must they abandon their wellness lifestyle or can a wellness lifestyle be profitably combined with the activities as a tourist?


Tourism, like wellness, has been defined in many ways. Definitions include: ". . . travel with the exception of commuting;" ". . . temporary movement of people to destinations outside their normal places of work and residence, ... activities undertaken during their stay in those destinations, and the facilities created to cater to their needs." Accordingly, "A tourist is any person visiting a country other than that in which he [sic] has his usual place of residence, for any reason other than following an occupation remunerated from within the country visited."

Given these definitions, let's explore the possible contributions, connections and impacts of tourism on each of the several dimensions of wellness. We want to discover how tourism can help the traveler promote personal wellness. For these purposes let's cons five critical areas of a wellness lifestyle: physical, intellectual, social, environmental, spiritual and emotional.

Physical Wellness

The best known of the wellness areas is physical wellness. The benefits of fitness are highly touted. Becoming "physically fit" appears to be a generally healthy trend as people realize that physical activity can play preventive, therapeutic and recreational roles. A person practicing physical wellness knows about nutrition, exercise and personal hygiene, and applies this knowledge to everyday life.

What is the tourism connection for physical wellness?

ZEIGER. A tourism/physical wellness connection does exist. One can be physically challenged with different activities. For example, organized walks along the Himalayas, Andes and Alps, or through remote areas of the United States can elevate physical and mental adventures. …

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