This special Type of tourism is dedicated to the concept of wellness and wellness tourism. In many ways, this is one of the most ancient forms of tourism if one considers the scrupulous attention paid to well-being by Romans and Greeks, the quests for spiritual enlightenment of Mediaeval pilgrims, or the medical seaside and spa tourism of the 18th and 19thcentury European élite. Arguably, however, there has been an unprecedented intensification in the pursuit of wellness in the history of tourism in recent years.
The proliferation of wellness centres, holistic retreats, spas, and spiritual pilgrimages, complementary and alternative therapies is unprecedented (House of Lords Report 2000). Theories abound as to the reasons for this exponential growth, many of which cite the anomie of western, capitalist societies, the breakdown of traditional religions, and the fragmentation of communities. Concomitant progress in science and medicine has led to better preservation of the body and increasing absence of disease, yet mental, psychological and emotional problems are often left untreated. Depression is commonly cited as being one of the greatest disease burdens of the 21st century and suicide rates are rising, especially amongst young men(e.g., Mullholland 2005).
However, help appears to be at hand in the form of new psychotherapies, complementary treatments and now, an ever-increasing wellness leisure and tourism sector. The scarce research available suggests that those who avail themselves of the plethora of experiences available appear to be not only on a touristic journey of physical movement, but also on a journey towards greater self-awareness and contentment.