Destination FeelGood - Healthy breaks mean healthy business beside the seaside!

Healthy breaks mean healthy business beside the seaside

UK coastal resorts have enormous untapped tourism opportunities for health and wellbeing holidays, according to new research revealed today [Thursday 24 September] by the National Coastal Tourism Academy (NCTA) and Bournemouth University, under the branding Destination FeelGood.

The UK health and wellness market is growing rapidly, estimated to be worth £877m and forecast to reach £1bn by 2018*. The NCTA’s new research has revealed that one fifth of British holidaymakers book a dedicated wellness break at least once a year and 59 per cent of those would prefer a coastal rather than urban or rural setting.

“This project has identified a clear opportunity for coastal tourism businesses to steal a slice of this burgeoning sector,” said NCTA Interim Director Jason Freezer.

“Currently only eight per cent of wellness breaks are taken in coastal resorts but we now know that most people would prefer a coastal resort giving huge opportunity for product development.

“Wellness breaks are often only associated with spas, but today’s holidaymakers are seeking to do something with their down-time, whether that’s learning a new language, setting a new personal best in running or kayaking or becoming more spiritually aware.

“What’s more these wellness trips are usually short-breaks, taken in four- to five-star accommodation and often during quieter months so directly address the issue of seasonality for many coastal resorts,” he added.

Coastal resorts also have an added USP – enjoying water sports, coastal walks or simply drinking in the sea air already have proven health benefits

The Destination FeelGood project has been exploring this gap in the market. A collaborative project between the NCTA and Bournemouth University, it has been working with local tourism businesses to identify the opportunities in this rapidly-growing sector.

The project has been trialled in three Dorset towns with 80 visitor-facing businesses who met every three months for a year from 2014-15. ‘Ideas cafés’ were held in Dorchester, Weymouth and Bournemouth featuring guest speakers who gave insights into aspects of wellbeing. Businesses were given a chance to swap ideas, discuss new product development and explore marketing potential for health tourism.

In addition to creating new packages, the cafés focused on publicising new food legislation for menus and examined the correlation between nurturing healthy staff and generating healthy profits.

Destination FeelGood has generated a number of new tourism initiatives, including the launch of cycling packages at a Poole-based B&B, a restaurant stakeholder group that introduces tourism businesses to local produce suppliers and a hotel wellbeing programme that links healthy staff with staff retention, improved motivation and productivity.

The results of the new research have significant implications for all coastal destinations and the NCTA will be seeking to partner with other resorts to explore opportunities for growth.

*Euromonitor International: Health and Wellness in the UK.

Key Research Findings:

■ People are much more likely to pursue “wellness” ambitions whilst on holiday

■ One in five of all UK residents take at least one wellness-dedicated break a year, rising to nearly one-third among 18- to 34-year-olds

■ Only 8% of wellness breaks are taken in coastal destinations, but 59% of respondents say they would prefer a coastal setting

■ Wellness breaks are off-peak business - 38% are taken in the pre-peak months of May and June, and 35% in the post-peak months of September and October

■ Wellness visitors are significantly more likely to fall into the AB socio-economic group, and to stay in four- and five-star accommodation

■ They also tend to spend more than traditional holidaymakers – in the case of Bournemouth, spending is calculated to be more than double that of other visitors

■ Demand is projected to outstrip supply within the next five years, and early entrants will reap the richest rewards


Notes to editors: The National Coastal Tourism Academy is a Coastal Communities Fund project that analyses the nature of coastal tourism to help boost jobs and the coastal tourism economy. It works with academia and the tourism industry to bridge gaps in research, visitor experience, training and skills. Having worked initially in Bournemouth with the local tourism industry and Bournemouth University, the NCTA is now working with coastal resorts nationally.

Follow us on Twitter: @nctacademy

To see more on the Destination FeelGood project, visit:

The NCTA commissioned new research from independent research company BDRC Continental to discover the value of this market and its potential as a growth opportunity for coastal destinations. It conducted research into a nationwide sample of 2,000 people at the end of 2014.

For further media information, please contact Sheron Crossman, Marketing and Communications Manager, or tel: 01202 962565.