The Global Wellness Summit (GWS), an invitation-only international gathering that brings together leaders of the global wellness industry, recently announced that this year’s conference will be held on October 17 to 19 at KitzKongress, Kitzbühel in Austria. This year’s event is co-chaired by two members of the GWS board of directors—Susan Harmsworth, founder of luxury spa brand ESPA, and Franz Linser, PhD, founder and managing director of international consulting firm Linser Hospitality.
Nestled in the Austrian Alps, Kitzbühel is an authentic, medieval city and one of Austria’s acclaimed resorts. Home to World Cup ski races in the winter and ATP Tennis in the summer, this active locale is an ideal setting for GWS. Wellness is a priority here in the western Austrian state, Tyrol. There, a wellness cluster of training agencies with skills in consulting, planning, manufacturing, and operation brings together public and private partners to use their synergies to inspire innovation. This model has since been emulated in other parts of the world and “Cluster Wellness Tyrol” now boasts a member network of more than 120 wellness businesses. “Tyrol, Austria is an amazing example of a destination that has centered its tourism initiatives around wellness, transforming the region from a single season, ski-only destination to a year-round wellness destination,” says Susie Ellis, CEO and chairman for GWS. “The region has what wellness seekers want: natural surroundings full of remarkable beauty, fresh air, clean water, authentic, local cuisine, and plenty of outdoor space to stay active and in touch with nature.”
According to research from the Global Wellness Institute, Austria also ranks first in Europe in wellness tourism expenditures per capita ($15.7 billion annually) and is the fifth largest wellness tourism market in the world with a population of 18 million. Also, Tyrol alone has had a record-breaking statistic of more than 11 million guest arrivals in 2015. “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,” says Günther Platter, governor of Tyrol. “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, which is the ability to slow down, get away, and immerse in nature and the joys of life.”