Katherine Droga joins us this week to talk about the Wellness Tourism Summit and what wellness travel is all about.
J: On Mind your own retirement about this time, Kaye, we get itchy feet. Have you got itchy feet?
KF: I always want to go travelling. John, there's something sick about me.
J: There's nothing sick about you. But you’ve got to stay well, and we've got an absolute expert on the line. We do have Katherine Droga on the line. She was with Tourism Australia for more years than she cares to remember but is now head of the wellness tourism. In fact. Katherine, welcome to you.
KD: Thank you. Thanks so much. It's great to be here.
J: Tell me about your global company. Just so we can get some of the information right about what you're doing now after leaving Tourism Australia.
KD: Yeah, no worries. So, I have my own company, a global company called DROGA and CO. And we do wellness, and travel, and tourism strategies to destinations and operators worldwide. And also I’m the founder of Australia's first wellness tourism summit.
KF: So, Katherine, here's the thing. We hear a lot about wellness travel, but could you define it for us?
KD: Yes, certainly. So, wellness travel is defined according to the Global Wellness Institute, which is a not for profit Orson's global think tank on research and insights in wellness in the US. And according to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness travel is anything that we do that maintains, enhances or kickstarts our own personal wellbeing on a travel experience.
J: How wonderful because I only seem to recall going to like the golden door or up to the hills in Victoria.
J: Thank you. And looking after yourself up there. But of course, now it's obviously, Katherine, a worldwide trend.
KD: Oh, absolutely. So really, that concept of what wellness travel is, has broadened so much from that traditional feeling that it's about just love or a retreat, which is an incredibly valuable and important part of the sector. But it's much, much broader now. So, when we talk about taking a wellness travel experience, for example, it could simply be that essence of wanting to immerse in a nature-based attraction, hiking, walking. It could be mental wellness in terms of mindfulness meditation.
You can be just getting out and physically doing something that's great for your body. So, it's a very broad, broad definition now and the sector is now worth six hundred and thirty-nine billion dollars a year. Yes, I know.
J: We're not just talking about walking through Spain or the Dolomites, but whether it could be somewhere in Australia. The beautiful Tasmanian wilderness, whatever.
KD: Australia is probably one of our best-known wellness travel destinations for domestic travelers, for local Aussies as well as international. So absolutely, the benefit of wellness travel is that it can meet your budget. It can be as simple as a walk in a beautiful national park, say south of Sydney so the Royal National Park or any of our beautiful nature-based areas across Australia. It can be as simple as that. It can be taking a kayaking trip, fishing, anything that is, you know, working on your own sense of well-being and wellness to you, it’s a very personal thing.
KF: Katherine, it is personal, and it sometimes seems to be linked with people getting away, meaning people becoming solo tourists to pursue wellness. Is that how you see it or do you think it's a family thing or a couple thing also?
KD: So, what we've done is I, as a part of the Global Wellness Institute, I cater a research initiative that we're doing some work in this space. And one of the things that we've done is done a survey of over a thousand people globally with a lot of those in Australia, and wellness travel is you can do it by yourself, but there's a lot of people that like to take it as a family wellness trip or a couple's wellness trip. So, it's a very much a personal choice.
And sometimes you might want to do a solo trip and then your next holiday or your next moment of travel and wellness might be with your entire family, or with your husband or your wife.
J: Katherine, let me get my head around this. So, is it like do you have your own website which has specific trips, which are “wellness trips” in inverted commas?
Or if I say, look, I want to go to France and you say, well, within this trip, you can do this and this for your wellness benefit.
KD: So basically, what's happened in the industry at the moment is that there are specialist travel agents and online aggregators that are now selling wellness trips based on what people are looking for, like pampering or retreats or adventure treks all those sorts of things. But also, individuals are just deciding that they want to incorporate more wellness in their own holiday, so it doesn't necessarily have to be through a booked experience. Your listeners can be just, you know, consciously organizing and planning wellness experiences as part of an existing trip around Australia or overseas.
And now more than ever, I think that's really important to embrace in our busy, busy world.
KF: So, to put it in context of retirement for people on a fixed income. Katherine, you're saying this is not about expensive closed-door sanctuaries necessarily. This does not necessarily involve an airfare. You can do this yourself.
KD: Definitely! And I think that's what we're seeing is the bigger growth segment in the market is actually the wellness travel experiences, especially for your listeners. If they're in that retiree perspective, it's around, you know, the journeys that they take when they want to take a trip, whether it's short or long. And it's how they feel inside. They want to look after themselves. You know, they're at a time in their lives where they want to look after their own mental or physical well-being.
And so, it's just the opportunity to look at what are their passion points and how do they incorporate it into their next holiday.
J: You've got a summit coming up later in the year. Katherine, tell us about that.
KD: Yeah, we're really excited. It's the first time that Australia has hosted a wellness tourism summit. And what that means is that we are running a two day event in beautiful Noosa on September 3 and 4. And so anyone that works in the industry or is interested in this industry is welcome to join us for two days of global speakers that will be flying in to talk about the trends in wellness travel, how to deliver an exceptional wellness travel experience. And so, we'll have bars and retreats and national parks and psychologists and medical professionals and media, everyone coming together to talk about how to deliver that.
KF: John and I are coming –
J: Write that date on the 3rd and 4th of September you know for once, Kaye, you can go to somewhere where you're going to come back feeling better than what you did when you got there.
KD: Honestly, it's going to be so beautiful. We even do wake up to wellness activities for our guest.
J: You’re not gonna make me eat -mung beans and have carrot juice all day.
KD: No, no, no, no. Look, we think wellness is a balanced life. So, there will be still a drink, but really beautiful fresh produce and lovely, lovely, awesome experiences in Noosa.
J: Wonderful. Well, look. Katherine, is there some place that are friends who are listening via Your Life Choices can go to to find out more.
KD: Yeah, absolutely. We have a website called thewellnesstourism.com.au And we have lots of great sort of content around wellness travel trends on that site as well. So, yeah thanks for the opportunity to chat this morning.
J: Well, once again, it's been an interesting program, Kaye, and we've covered a few bases and certainly I believe you'd like to have a little chat about that wonderful Katherine interview we just did.
KF: Yeah, well, thinking about wellness, John, I'm thinking what is my form of wellness travel?
And I think its sand between the toes, the smell of salty air, and watching my dog running ahead down the beach. And you know what? That's affordable.
J: It is affordable. And walking through the beautiful Dandenongs or having a walk through the Blue Mountains, the gentle trails.
KF: The local park.
J: The local park. Yesterday, I took a lovely walk through Fawkner Park in Melbourne. Just superb! And there are just so many wonderful things you can do and it not cost money.
Can I just also throw something in, you know, how people are going nuts and they're rushing into the supermarket and start stocking up on cans of this and that.
I went to my local fresh produce market in Prahran and guess what? They had heaps of meat, heaps of vegetables, heaps of fresh fruit, heaps of chicken, heaps of fish.
KF: So, keep visiting the market.
J: I mean, what would mom and dad have done? They would have, mum would have made all the food. You know, I’m not saying stock up with two weeks’ worth. I mean, obviously, if you're going to be in isolation, certainly. But, you know, there's such a wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables available from rural people.
KF: And also, just a reminder our special afternoon daily bulletin.
J: About what time does that come out?
KF: About 3:30, John
J: Okay. Okay.
KF: So, we're committed to being calm, sensible, rational and giving people the information that we receive from federal and state governments.
J: All right. So, get away from all the clutter and all the noise and my goodness gracious me. Kaye Fallick, is there a lot of clutter and noise at the moment? To the point where I'm just shutting it off. Constant barrage.
KF: It’s not gossip. It's health. It's serious. We're not gossiping.
J: Kaye, thank you so much!
KF: Thank you, John!
J: Have a lovely week and we’ll catch up next week. Always a pleasure.
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