Peninsula Hot Springs has made an international industry-leading commitment to geothermal health and wellness tourism research, born out of the 2014 Global Spa and Wellness Summit in Morocco.
A Global Hot Springs Forum panel was established during the 2013 summit, which included representatives* from Australia (including Peninsula Hot Springs), New Zealand, USA, France, Peru, Japan and Mexico.
In Morocco, the Global Hot Springs Forum panel identified more research as a major desire of geothermal springs operators worldwide in what is a burgeoning $50 billion industry.
At both the 2013 and 2014 Global Hot Springs forums, RMIT’s Professor Marc Cohen, said that most research to date has focused on balneotherapy, but talked of the need for more fundamental understanding of who was attending hot springs and why – with the aim of identifying all populations fitting the ‘wellbeing’ motivation.
* Among forum members are: Charles Davidson, Peninsula Hot Springs (pictured); Mohammed Karim Jeannane, Director General of Sothermy and the Royal Golf Club of Fez, one of the largest thermal spa centers in Morocco; Erwan Madec, Director General and CEO of Vichy Spa International; J. Alonso Burgos Hartley, owner, Colca Lodge in Peru; and Steve Chadwick, the Mayor of Rotorua, a New Zealand city that is renowned for its geothermal and spa heritage.
Peninsula Hot Springs partnered with RMIT University’s School of Health Sciences for a project called: 'Indulgence or therapy? Exploring the characteristics, motivations and experiences of hot springs bathers.'
This is the first time such research has been undertaken in Victoria and RMIT received more than 4000 responses to the online survey.
Indulgence or therapy research article - Abstract
Hot springs are a $50 billion global industry and a growing segment of the wellness tourism sector, yet no previous research has focused on the views of hot spring users and the drivers for hot spring visitation in Australia are unclear.
We performed a cross-sectional observational study through an online Qualtrics survey to assess the characteristics, motivations and experiences of visitors to Australia’s largest commercial hot spring. Primary analysis of data from 4,265 mostly female respondents involved descriptive statistics, which aimed to describe trends around respondents’ characteristics, motivations and experiences. The data on respondents’ medical conditions was further analysed to determine the perceived benefit/harm for each condition.
Analysis revealed that “relaxation,” “peace and tranquility,” “indulgence” and “escape” were the most important motivators for bathing. Most respondents reported general health benefits (98%) and better sleep (82%) from bathing, one third experienced fainting/dizziness. One third of respondents also had medical conditions. Significant benefits were reported for back pain, arthritis, stress/anxiety, depression and insomnia. These results suggest that while relaxation is currently the major driver of hot spring visitation, balneotherapy warrants consideration from Australian health practitioners and insurers as a complementary therapy.