Exploring New Zealanders’ Perceptions and Interest in Wellness Tourism in China
The awareness of the importance of wellness in individual’s health management and disease prevention in developed countries is increasing. The effectiveness of complementary alternative medicine in the prevention of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases has driven more people to change from a reactive biomedical health paradigm to a proactive and holistic wellness paradigm. Wellness tourism provides tourists with opportunities to enjoy wellness services in a variety of settings and thus fulfil the demand for relaxation, diseases prevention, health maintenance and enhancement. There are different types of wellness tourism around the world due to different natural resources and the different perceptions of wellness between the West and the East. In western countries, spa is sometimes treated as being synonymous with wellness; in contrast, the Asian wellness traditions such as Chinese wellness practices, take a holistic approach of treating the body, mind and spirit as one, encouraging the body to heal itself. The wellness approach in New Zealand is influenced by both the West and the East. However, few researchers have studied New Zealanders’ perceptions and interest in participating wellness tourism in China. This research adopted a quantitative research design to identify the potential New Zealand tourist markets for participating in wellness tourism in China, to examine New Zealanders’ levels of interest in wellness tourism services in China, and to find out New Zealanders’ expectations of wellness tourism experiences in China through questionnaire surveys of 383 New Zealand citizens and residents in Auckland. The results indicate that females, Baby Boomers and well-educated participants are the potential New Zealand tourist market for participating in wellness tourism in China. The research has also discovered the participants’ expectations of accommodation, food choice, group size, trip duration and experiences for wellness tourism in China. The research has theoretical contributions to a cross-cultural understanding of wellness tourism between the West and the East and provided insight for the Chinese wellness tourism industry stakeholders for the design and marketing of wellness tourism products in western countries.