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Wellness product and wellness destinations: the potential evolution of the thermal vocation in Italy
The attention of postmodern consumers to the care of their psych-physical, nutritional and spiritual wellness is also reflected in the choice of travel and of the desired travel experiences. A new configuration of health tourism has been outlined, characterized by broad and less well defined boundaries, including all those activities (which are) both curative and maintain health, wellness and well – being. The most common form of wellness tourism is related to water and spas, structured in a monothematic offer (spa) or strongly polarized around the spa. If there is agreement that wellness can be a resource for the creation of a tourism product and become a system of attractions for the destination development, there is a lack of evolution models and knowledge of the drivers of this development. This study aims to contribute, through empirical evidence, to the definition of a wellness product as an integrated tourism product and to analyze the drivers for the development of a wellness destination. An empirical research of nine Italian wellness destinations has been conducted, through a mixed method approach. The study has identified the wellness as a positioning function of a destination and the product integration – according to the wellness experience theme – and the creation of a network of offers (between stakeholders and destinations), of which the primary development drivers of a wellness destination.