Australia Gets Its First Wellness Tourism Summit

In some very exciting industry news, as of next year, Australia will be introducing its very first wellness tourism summit.

Sunny Noosa is to play host to the inaugural Wellness Tourism Summit early next year, which is designed to showcase and explore the rapid growth currently being experienced by the wellness sector, and provide a platform to discuss the new opportunities for wellness tourism businesses in Australia.

Held March 19-20, 2020 at the Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort, the Summit will be convened by Katherine Droga, renowned for her position as chair of non-profit organisation the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), whose mission is to empower wellness worldwide.

The two-day program will encompass exciting new research, consumer trends and best practice in wellness travel and tourism, with more than 20 leading wellness travel experts invited to speak on the main stage to share their insights into the growing wellness tourism sector.

The Summit already has a stellar line-up of speakers, with more still yet to be announced. Confirmed speakers to date include: 

  • Emlyn Brown, Accor’s Paris-based Vice-President Wellbeing, Luxury and Premium Brands
  • Joanne Barber, sustainability transformer and wellness thought leader at Singapore-based We Affirm Co.
  • Sharon Kolka, general manager and wellness director at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
  • Georgia Rickard, Editor-at-Large at Virgin Australia 
  • Janice Williams, publisher of Wellbeing Magazine
  • Charles Davidson, founder and chairman of Peninsula Hot Springs

This conference is set to be a little unique – according to organisers, “we wanted something that was deeper than a regular business conference, we’ve carefully curated some amazing wellness travel experiences, speakers and food to nourish the brain and the soul.”

Thursday 19th will commence with welcome cocktails and canapes and a chance for delegates to network with industry colleagues and media. Friday 20th will be launched with complimentary morning wellness activities to really get guests in the wellness state of mind, which will be followed by a full day of wellness travel immersion with talks and panel discussions on the main stage. Delegates will be able to sample wellness experiences in breakout areas throughout the day, and lunch held at Peter Kuruvita’s award-winning Noosa Beach House.

“Within the top 20 highest spending destinations, the USA attracts the highest average international wellness expenditure per person of any nation with Australia ranking second” said Katherine Droga. 

“There are huge benefits to businesses engaging in wellness tourism.  Wellness travellers often tread lightly, respect the environment, value local community connections, and help mitigate over-tourism issues that many destinations now face. Wellness travellers also assist a destination with seasonality flows, stay longer than regular tourists and often spend more.” 

“This means there’s a huge opportunity for operators to tap into the diverse sectors of what wellness travel actually means to the consumer. This ranges from extreme wellness – where hotels are including excursions such as wild swimming in Alpine lakes and mountain-top heli-yoga – to mental wellbeing and happiness, such as silence at wellness monasteries in Quebec or serene paddling in the pristine upper reaches of the Noosa Everglades, home to almost half of all bird species found in Australia.”

In case you’re wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to wellness tourism, here are a few reasons why we could really use an industry-specific summit to explore and inspire:

  • According to GWI research, the wellness tourism sector is valued at a whopping $639 billion per year in global visitor spend
  • Australia experiences around 10 million wellness trips a year from local and international visitors
  • We saw an annual growth of 6.5% between 2015 and 2017, making the wellness tourism sector the most rapidly expanding area of the tourism industry at large. 
  • In a list of the top 20 wellness tourism destination markets, Australia is ranked 14th globally in terms of percentage growth in trips over the past two years, with 1.5 million trips added (8.3% growth)

The Wellness Tourism Summit is supported by Tourism Noosa, Tourism Australia and Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort.

Early bird registrations close on August 31, 2019.  More information on the Wellness Tourism Summit and how to register can be found at


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