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370 – Can Wellness Tourism Heal The World?

370 - Can Wellness Tourism Heal The World

What does wellness mean to you?

More than 60 bespoke wellness experiences and events are headlining the 2023 Wellness wander three-day weekend in the Adelaide Hills this coming weekend, March 31-April 2, 2023, so Steve arranged an interview with the event founder, Katherine Droga to not only discuss the event but also the whole topic of wellness tourism.

And in the Musical Pilgrimage, we hear an unplugged song by long time favourite of the podcast, Kelly Brouhaha.

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Running Sheet: Can Wellness Tourism Heal The World?

00:00:00 Intro


00:00:00 SA Drink Of The Week

No SA drink segment this week.

00:03:42 Katherine Droga

This coming weekend, March 31 to April 2, 2023, the Wellness Wander Weekend returns to the Adelaide Hills. More than 60 bespoke wellness experiences will be staged from Stirling, to Hahndorf, Mount Barker to Lobethal, Crafers to Paracombe and the greater surrounds. At the heart of this event is Katherine Droga, Founder of Wellness Wander, Executive Producer of Well Traveller TV, and Chair of the GWI Wellness Tourism Initiative.

Katherine, I have found that as I planned some questions for our chat, there are some challenging ones in the list because I do have this social justice bent in me in which I hate seeing vulnerable people exploited and the area of health is one of the danger zones. But I know you’re up for it and I appreciate that.

But first, Katherine, how do you define wellness?

The wellness idustry attracts many types of people, from those who are unwell to those who feel called to help others. And the first thoughts that arose for me when hearing about the Wellness wander, were coloured by concern about potential opportunism. My initial analogy was that the wellness tourism operators were setting up stands around the edge of a broken and dangerous playground to make money from selling bandaids to injured people. But then I realised that even bandaids have a role to play in healing and maybe an event like Wellness wander might give people the breathing space they need to take stock. What are your thoughts?

There is gold in the wellness hills. The Global Wellness Institute says wellness travellers spend 53% more than typical international travellers and 178% more than typical domestic travellers. How do we ethically balance the care factor  of wellness with the brute force of economic drivers?

What role has Covid played in spurring interest in wellness travel?

One major lens of an event like Wellness wander is at the personal level but no matter how much healing you might undergo, it doesn’t change the fact that playground of the world is still a broken place. To fix the causes of suffering in the world is a much deeper task. In fact, I would love your reflection on this insight from Owen Eastwood’s book, Belonging. He seems to suggest that our disconnectedness from ourselves and our society (which causes unwellness) actually relates to our lack of understanding of Whakapapa. This is a maori concept of noting that we are here as part of a long line of those who came before us and that the sun will shine on each of us brightly and our job is to try to leave a better legacy. Does that resonate with you?

What has occurred on your journey that propelled you into this world of wellness?

I was heartened to see The GWI has a strong focus on evidence, which is great because our podcast has a long history of supporting evidence-based enterprises and products. For example, we have long been appalled by the water that is sold as expensive homeopathic medicine. I can state right now that we stand against that sort of skullduggery. However, we’re also aware that there are some alternative practices where although they claim a certain type of action is happening, what is really going on is a placebo effect based on the biopsychosocial factors arising from just having attention from a therapist (the patient– practitioner interaction). How do you apply safeguards in an event like Wellness wander to save people from themselves?

We will put a link to the full program in the show notes, but I’d love to look into a few things that caught my eye from the program:

  • Sensory Journey at the Ukaria Cultural Centre
  • Family digital detox
  • Yoga

The Wellness wander is an overarching event for the weekend with individual events 100% run by providers including setting their own price points for the event. However, there are plenty of cheaper options for those who are on a budget such as:

What can other tourism operators learn from the Wellness wander and from this thing called wellness tourism?

00:39:01 Musical Pilgrimage

The most fitting song in the Musical Pilgrimage this episode. It is Campfires by Kelly Brouhaha.

There are three reasons this is the perfect song ahead of the Wellness wander.

  1. The Wellness wander is about reconnecting with your self and your place and that should also include connecting or reconnecting with our magnificent, homegrown talent. Kelly is an Adelaide-based singer songwriter and following her and supporting her is a great way to ground yourself in life-enriching local art.
  2. This song is about the goodness of gathering around campfires to tell stories and to just be (among other things). As referenced in the interview with Katherine Droga, Owen Eastwood argues for the importance of campfire storytelling in his book, Belonging, which is all on theme for this episode.
  3. And, finally, this is Kelly off her recent Unplugged album. If anything says simplicity and honesty in harmony with the Wellness wander, it’s an artist communicating with us intimately “unplugged”.

Here’s this week’s preview video

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SFX: Throughout the podcast we use free SFX from for the harp, the visa stamp, the silent movie music, the stylus, the radio signal SFX, the wine pouring and cork pulling SFX, and the swooshes around Siri.

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