Robust Innovation Anchors in Rural Wellbeing Tourism

Robust Innovation Anchors in Rural Wellbeing Tourism

Anne-Mette Hjalager (University of Southern Denmark, Denmark), Kaarina Tervo-Kankare (University of Oulu, Finland), Anja Tuohino (University of Eastern Finland, Finland) and Henna Konu (University of Eastern Finland, Finland)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0201-2.ch009
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Innovation in tourism does not take place in a vacuum. Innovators find inspiration from many sources. This article identifies ten innovation anchors, e.g. critical trends that can guide the long-term innovation activity and lead to fundamentally new products, services, delivery mechanisms, organizational models, means of collaboration etc. Innovation anchors are robust as they are found persistently in the recent scholarly literature and appear on a consistent base in business related evidence. Rural wellbeing tourism is area of inquiry. The study reveals that innovation, in the future, can take further advantage of the following: 1) Towards a holistic wellbeing, 2) Connecting with nature and its resources, 3) Altruism included, 4) The rural as a medical prescription, 5) Work-life balance, 6) Wellbeing diversification the rural way, 7) Taking advantage of the climate squeeze, 8) Opening the digital channels, 9) A new puritanism rural style, and 10) The gear dimension.
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Tourism is a phenomenon under perpetual change and development. The geographical features constitute imperative attraction values (Hall & Page, 2014). Simultaneously, the material and immaterial features of the geography stimulate the innovation of new touristic products and services. In an era of increasing local as well as global completion, the careful and creative interpretation of what happens in the geographical space becomes more important.

The purpose of this chapter is to identify and discuss the foundations – innovation anchors - for the future of innovation in tourism. Innovation anchors are robust piles in the ground, they are developments and prospects that are likely to be of guiding value for innovating enterprises and destinations (Hjalager, 2002; Kozak, 2014; Mei et al, 2012). Accordingly, the study addresses trends in tourism, and there is a specific emphasis on wellbeing tourism.

The study also aims at contributing to the rural tourism research, hopefully with the future oriented view stimulating new directions in a research tradition which has had a focus on mainly authenticity and stability. There is a distinct need for further inquiries into innovations at the business level illuminating new business models in rural wellbeing. The study also attempts to move innovation studies further.

By definition, rural wellbeing tourism is a form of tourism that takes place in rural settings and that interconnects actively with local nature and community resources. Based on the rural tangible and intangible, openly accessible and commercial ingredients, wellbeing tourism is holistic mode of travel that integrates physical and mental wellness and health and contributes to wider positive social and individual life experiences.

Rural wellbeing tourism is related to wellness and health tourism, for example as defined by Sheldon and Bushell (2009), but it has a broader stance, and it might be seen as a further development of historical spa and wellness trends (Connell, 2006; Erfurt-Cooper & Cooper, 2009; Müller & Lanz Kaufmann, 2001; Smith & Puczkó, 2009, 2014). Over the past decades spa and wellness tourism has increased in popularity, and a mushrooming of concepts takes place, for example into facets of spiritual tourism, thalasso specialities, occupational wellness tourism, yoga and meditation, and many forms of sauna (Smith & Puzckó, 2009, 2014). The development of the traditional spa and wellness resorts towards a more holistic paradigm is prevalent. According to García-Altés (2005) diverse demographic, economic and lifestyle related factors have enhanced this. Many people are stressed by living in work-obsessed, time-pressured, materialistic and over-individualistic societies (Laing & Weiler, 2008; Sheldon & Bushell, 2009; Smith & Puzckó, 2009, 2014). In addition, the aging population, changes in lifestyle and alternatives in tourism, where experienced travellers seek new experiences (Konu & Laukkanen, 2010), add to the increased emphasis on more holistically oriented wellness products (Koh et al., 2010; Lehto et al., 2006; Mak et al., 2009).

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