Well-being tourism is tourism that supports harmony and balance of body, mind, and soul, for both guests and hosts, in a sustainable interaction with the local community and environment (Lindell et al., 2021). Hence well-being tourism both builds on sustainability and goes beyond it.
The goal of this seed project is to introduce the concept of well-being tourism to partner regions and to identify common research interests in the field. The collaboration also includes an exploration of the possibilities to initiate a student experience exchange between partners. The project is led by Linneaus University and contributing partners are the University of Florence, Nantes Université and the University of Birmingham. Each partner contributes in a similar way to the project however a study visit (in 2022), and a summer course (in 2021) is hosted by the University of Florence and Linnaeus University supports the latter with a lecturer.
Tourism is currently having significant negative effects on both the environment and on communities that experience high pressure from tourism. At the same time, tourism is one of the industries that has the greatest possibility to drive the development towards sustainability as well as it brings experiences that support personal growth (not the least for students engaging in various exchanges), and therefore development of intercultural understanding that promotes friendly relations across borders. Thus, within the scope of tourism lie great opportunities that can support the development towards a more harmonious and thriving society.
The well-being tourism concept, which highlights sustainability combined with a comprehensive view on human well-being, is well in-line with the view of the Council of Europe: It is important to create a condition that "enables people to reach their full potential". We therefore also understand that "well-being includes people, societies and the planet", or, as EUniWell puts it: "Well-being is multidimensional. It ranges from individual quality of life to social cohesion and environmental balance at a planetary level".
Through this EUniWell seed funding project we will explore how the concept of well-being tourism can be applied in our different regions and how it can be integrated with biocultural heritage tourism. Further, we will network and explore the possibilities of joint education and policy development building on the concept of well-being tourism. Partner meetings and open seminars on four different themes (e.g. on biocultural heritage and on measuring well-being) will be organised and distributed over the time duration of the project: 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2022. A summer school on well-being tourism was held in 2021 and a study visit to biocultural heritage sites will take place in Florence in spring 2022.
The outcomes are new collaborations within the EUniWell network for research and teaching purposes in the area of land policy and management with an interdisciplinary approach, and a focus on the enhancement of biocultural heritage (cultural, environmental, and traditional resources) and its impact on well-being and on tourism attractiveness. It already resulted among other things in a successful summer course collaboration with student contributions to a report on Good Practices in Wellbeing Tourism (Lindell et al, 2022).