Wellness, tourism and small business development in a UK coastal resort: Public engagement in practice

In a new article Professor Heather Hartwell and Professor Adele Ladkin plus colleagues discuss their findings from an ESRC funded project – Destination FeelGood.

The importance of wellbeing is increasingly recognised as a crucial aspect of tourism and a factor of strategic growth amongst tourism providers. However, in the local area of Bournemouth and Poole, although this is an emerging area of interest from a policy perspective, the tourism potential of positioning towards wellbeing has not been fully realised, providing an ideal platform to launch new product initiatives aligned to this direction.

The paper examines the scope of well-being as a focus for tourism and its potential as a tool for small business development, particularly the opportunities for tourism entrepreneurs in coastal resorts. The study reports an example of public engagement by a research team and the co-creation of research knowledge with businesses to assist in SME development by adapting many existing features of tourist resorts and extending their offer to wider markets.

The synergy between well-being and public health interests also brings potential benefits for the tourism workforce and the host community. The case study outlines how these ideas were tested in Bournemouth, a southern coastal resort in the UK, in a study ultimately intended to be adopted nationally and with more wide reaching implications for global development of the visitor economy. Local changes ascribed to the study are assessed and its wider potential is evaluated.

This open access paper is available free-of-charge from Tourism Management.