Australia has a rich and ancient bathing culture with its major cities and towns defined by their waterways. Attuned to the rapid rise of wellness tourism, currently valued at $US639 billion globally, Victoria is at the heart of a new cultural bathing movement.
Supported through the Victorian Tourism Industry Council’s ‘Lynette Bergin Fellowship’, emerging business leader Matt Sykes of Peninsula Hot Springs has searched the globe for best-practice industry benchmarks. From the hot springs of Japan and China, to the saunas of Finland and the harbour baths of Copenhagen, Matt has studied diverse bathing traditions and business models. A key focus was regenerative development projects which simultaneously promote community wellbeing, restore degraded ecosystems and deliver year–round economic benefits to their region.
The result is an inspiring blueprint for an integrated hot springs and bathing tourism strategy for our state. Coined ‘The Great Victorian Bathing Trail’, the vision interweaves three elements: a chain of hot springs stretching along our southern coastline from Metung to Portland; a necklace of sea baths and saunas around Nerm / Port Phillip Bay; as well as a string of baths and floating saunas along the Birrarung / Yarra River. Importantly, the research details flow-on benefits to the broader tourism industry by drawing packaging opportunities with other nature-based tourism experiences such as Victoria’s iconic walks and food trails.
Such a pilgrimage trail has the potential to become a backbone for Victoria’s wellbeing tourism offering and a world-class signature experience for Tourism Australia.
View the full report here.