The Turnaround of the Thermal Spa Sector In France
By Jacqueline Clarke Wellness Research Director, Diagonal Reports | July 03, 2016
French Thermal Spas can inspire modern wellness and spa industries worldwide. They are turning around an industry that was in terminal decline. Their vision is of "a new thermalism" that will develop thermal solutions to solve the public health problems of today. The mega health problems they target include ageing-related conditions, addictions, allergies, stress, obesity related, and effective, but non-medicated, solutions for common pains. The new thermalism expands its appeal by diversifying from the rigidly therapeutic offer into the more flexible "thermoludic" (thermal and leisure). A major research project is generating the evidence to convince consumers and insurers.
New Thermalism for New Century / A €250 Million Vote of Confidence
French Thermal Spas can be an inspiration far beyond France. They have halted and reversed what, a decade ago, seemed to be an end game. Today the 89 active thermal spas are leading from the front. Their shared mission is to create "a new thermalism" that is integrated not just into the official health care system, but also into the public consciousness of their wellness options.
The industry data indicates there is growing demand for the new offer. Thermal spa visitor numbers, in 2015, were up 2.5% on the previous year and have been growing since 2010. The growth comes from treating health conditions that were not served by the "old" or classic thermalism. Among them conditions that were often weight -related, such as diabetes, veins, etc. The recent €250 million investment in new facilities and refurbishment is a strong vote of confidence by the sector in its vision for the future.
Some 15 new "resort style" or "thermoludic" spas have been opened in the past years. These centres are dedicated to the "thermoludic" offer - that is services, and facilities designed for relaxation and leisure or pleasure, rather than exclusively for medical cures.
What Consumers Rejected