The Global Wellness Summit Turns 10

The 2016 Global Wellness Summit (GWS) will hold its 10th anniversary (October 17-19) in Kitzbühel, Tyrol, Austria – arguably (and aptly) Europe’s cradle of wellness tourism.

The theme of this year’s conference, Back to the Future, will examine the future of spa and wellness through the lens of history.

Delegates, including leaders and visionaries from the $3.4 trillion global wellness industry, will be given the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in what many consider the most important wellness experience of all: the splendour of nature.

Nestled in the Austrian Alps, Kitzbühel is an authentic, medieval city and one of Austria’s best-known year-round sports resorts – home of World Cup ski races in the winter, ATP Tennis in the summer and, increasingly, a year-round destination as emphasised by its popular Kitzbühel 365 campaign.

GSW-LOGOAccording to research from the Global Wellness Institute, Austria ranks first in Europe in wellness tourism expenditures per capita ($15.7 billion USD annually) and is the fifth largest wellness tourism market in the world with a modest population of 18 million. Tyrol alone had a record-breaking more than 11 million guest arrivals in 2015, a remarkable achievement for a region with fewer than a million full-time residents.

If would-be delegates register by the end of the month, they will be able to take advantage of early bird rates for this three-day wellness wonderland.

Susie Ellis

“Tyrol is an amazing example of a destination that has centred its tourism initiatives around wellness, transforming the region from a single season, ski-only destination to a year-round wellness destination,” said Susie Ellis, GWS chairman and CEO.

“It holds a unique place in wellness history as a pioneer, bringing people and businesses together to promote a region’s distinct health-focused offerings.

“It’s the location of the first wellness hotel collaboration begun 30 years ago; 15 years ago Tyrol introduced the idea of forming a wellness cluster bringing together public and private partners to use their synergies to increase competitiveness and inspire innovation.

“This model has since been emulated in other parts of the world and `Cluster Wellness Tirol’ now boasts a member network of more than 120 wellness businesses.

“The region has what wellness seekers want: natural surroundings full of remarkable beauty – fresh air, clean water; great, authentic, local cuisine and plenty of outdoor space to stay active and in touch with nature.

“This inspirational environment will no doubt help fuel transformative thought leadership about the future of wellness during the Summit. I can’t think of a better venue for our tenth anniversary Summit – a kind of Wellness Davos!”

KITZ-3Susie’s co-chairs for the Tyrol Summit are Sue Harmsworth, chairman and founder of ESPA International, and Dr Franz Linser, CEO of Linser Hospitality, GmbH.

“It is a privilege to work with Sue and Franz, and we all look forward to saying “Willkommen” to you in Tyrol,” adds Susie.

Says Günther Platter, Governor of Tyrol: “Bringing the premiere wellness conference to Tyrol is extremely gratifying for our region and will help us put a global spotlight on something we started decades ago: wellness tourism.

“We look forward to welcoming the international community and exploring the exciting opportunities for the future of our remarkable region that offers so much of what people are looking for these days: the ability to slow down, get away and immerse in nature and joys of life.”

Topics on the future-focused agenda will include the intersection of medicine and wellness, the future of wellness within communities and the built environment, and the technological advancements making wellness more accessible for all.

“We wanted a theme that honored our 10th anniversary and reflected the historical relevance of being in Europe, and Tyrol, Austria in particular – where many modern-day wellness practices began, and that continues to be at the forefront of the evolving wellness market,” says Susie Ellis.

KITZ-2“This gives us a unique opportunity to look back over the last 10 years at the founding of our annual Summit, while looking forward to analyse what lies ahead in wellness over the next decade.

“In addition, there will be a deep dive into the economics and investment outlook of spas and wellness in Europe, and an exchange of ideas between what large hotel brands and the smaller family-owned hotels – so prevalent in Tyrol – might learn from one another,” says Susie Ellis.

“Some provocative discussions will include a debate on the issues of terrorism, travel and wellness, as well as how government policies are beginning to make wellness mandatory.

“The conference will also explore the shifting meanings of two often-interchanged terms – “wellness” and “wellbeing” – and their conceptual implications and appropriate usage going forward.

“To commemorate this historic 10th anniversary Summit, delegates will be asked to contribute their predictions for the future of the wellness industry, to be sealed in a 10th Anniversary Time Capsule in a ceremony on the final day of the conference. The capsule will be opened at the Summit in 2026.

“You may also get to paraglide off the Hahnenkamm mountain!”


GWS is an invitation-only international gathering that brings together leaders and visionaries to positively shape the future of the $3.4 trillion global wellness industry. It attracts leaders from every sector of the wellness industry: spa, education, tourism, beauty, fitness, nutrition, finance, environment, medicine, architecture, workplace wellness, wellness communities and technology.

It is held in a different location each year. Summits have taken place in the US (the first was at New York’s famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel), Switzerland, Turkey, Bali, India, Morocco and, last year, Mexico City.



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