Algarve’s health and wellness destination branding uses a multidisciplinary, cooperative, holistic and composite approach. Destination branding develops international knowledge about the tourist destination, such as the climate, gastronomy, natural and cultural resources, health and wellness tourism facilities, and to raise positive feelings as a means for attracting health and wellness visitors.
Located in the south of Portugal and south Western Europe, Algarve is one of the main tourist destinations in the country, attracting 5.5 million visitors annually. Algarve is home to about 90 beaches, 69 of which are certified by The Blue Flag, an eco-label award. In 2012, World Travel Awards (Oscars of the travel industry worldwide) distinguished Algarve as the best beach destination of the European continent and granted awards to several resorts and hotels.
The Algarve area, population 440,000, is about 5.000 km and the coast extends over 180 km, from Vila Real de Santo António (east), close to the Spanish border, to Odeceixe (west).
The word Algarve, proceeded from Arab “al – gharb,”which means west. There is a strong cultural heritage from the ancient Moors who came to Algarve in 710 A.C. and stayed until 1249. Still today, several cities and villages have Arab names, medieval castles and traditional Arabian architecture and gastronomy.
There are also archaeological findings from Neolithic and the Roman Period. The Portuguese caravels set sail during XV/XVI centuries from Lagos and Sagres to Africa, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Australia. The origin of the name Sagres comes from promontorium sacrum (sacred promontory), of the Roman Period.
Since then, the Algarve has developed strong historical and cultural connections with several countries in Africa, the Americas and Asia. The most important city of Nigeria is Lagos, which is related to the Portuguese city of Lagos, as there was a Portuguese presence in Nigeria during the XV/XVI centuries. The International Faro Airport allows fast airline connections, mainly with north and central European countries, as well as African countries.
Algarve is one of the main tourist destinations in the country, attracting 5.5 million travellers annually.
Portugal Turistic Organization
According the law number 33/2013, Portugal is organized in seven different touristic regions: Porto e Norte, Centro, Lisboa, Alentejo, Algarve and the Autonomous Regions of Azores and Madeira. Portugal needs several regional brands because the tourist regions have different health and wellness facilities, strengths and weakness, natural resources, climate, touristic infrastructures, accessibilities to international airports and target markets.
Each Turistic Region Entity (ERT) has its own brand and a particular strategic marketing plan. In Portugal, it is necessary to create health and wellness regional brands and a national (umbrella) brand.
Importance of Destination Branding
The destinations are “the fundamental unit of analysis in tourism” (World Tourism Organization, 2002).
The purpose of the destination marketing organization is to enhance the long destination competitiveness, uniqueness and attractiveness. The health and wellness destination brand becomes more and more important to promote the image of high quality of healthcare in a location (city, region, country).
Seeking to attract international patients, from all around the world, the partners and stakeholders must work together to develop network synergies – health and wellness clusters. Hotels and resorts become healthcare facilities.
For prior and post-surgery medical travellers, thermal, thalasso and spa facilities offer non-medical therapies to complement conventional invasive and pharmacological treatments. Algarve’s Health and Wellness Destination.
- To improve destination attractiveness and competitiveness as a whole
- Increase visitor arrivals, length of stay and spending
- To enhance destination image
- To stress the uniqueness of Algarve’ s positioning
- To persuade or remind travellers about the Algarve destination
- To identify target markets anticipating travellers’ needs
- To develop synergies between the different health & wellness products
- To create partnerships between hospitals/clinics, hotels/ resorts, health & wellness centers and restaurants
- To improve the engagement of key stakeholders
- To develop more collaborative partnerships between private and public sectors
- To increase the economic scale, leading to increased numbers of Algarve’s visitors
- To increase economic sustainable development
- To reduce tourism seasonality
- To increase employment in Algarve
- To increase quality and the safety of health and wellness tourism
- To enhance the adoption of sustainable tourism paradigm
Algarve Destination Swot Analysis
Faro International Airport; Portimão cruise port; train travelling between Algarve and Lisbon; fast road connection with southern Spain; short distances and fast road connections between Algarve seaside and countryside; mild climate; sunshine almost all of the year; hospitals, clinics health & wellness facilities; the best European beaches; nautical sports; outdoor adventure activities; quality accommodations; natural features; landscape/ environmental diversity; themes parks; historical landmarks (archaeology Roman and Arabian sites, medieval castles, Sagres); craft and antique markets; host population culture and amenity; and dining and night entertainment.
Lack of coordination between the public and private sectors; deficient articulation between health and tourism companies; insufficient offers on health (quality and quantity); lack of legal regulation/normalization of health and wellness products; few facilities have an international accreditation and certification; insufficient environmental certification; poor road signalling; insufficient offers for seniors and handicapped tourists.
Security in several emergent destinations; aeronautics liberalization (low cost airlines); new emitting markets (Angola, Brazil, Mozambique, China, Russia, Arab countries); better environmental awareness; knowledge about the importance of Mediterranean diet as nutria-therapy;
therapeutic potential of thalassotherapy; people’s aging in the developed countries; growing importance of aesthetic/cosmetic and anti-aging; increasing awareness of the importance of health & wellness tourism around the world.
The great development of health & wellness tourism in the south of Spain, namely in the Canarias Islands; the rise of emergent health and wellness tourism destinations (Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Croatia, Crimea); competitive price-quality compared to health and wellness tourist products in other destinations; evolution of the European economic crisis; epidemic diseases; and increasing insecurity.
Algarve’s Branding Partners and Stakeholders – Health & Wellness Cluster
Private: six hospitals, several clinics, and two thalasso and one thermal complex; 70 spas, health and wellness resorts, health clubs, hotels, resorts, restaurants, insurance companies, tourist operators, ANA Algarve airport and the Portuguese Health and Wellness Tourism Association – APTSBE.
Healthcare marketers emphasize the destination’s uniqueness. However selling healthcare services is unique, because the quality of procedures and the client’s safety are essential.
Public: Health Ministry (national and regional institutions); State Secretary of Tourism; Tourism of Portugal, Algarve Regional Entity of Tourism – RTA, Faro Central Hospital, Hospital of Portimão, School of Health, of Algarve University, School of Management, Hospitality and Tourism, of Algarve University, Algarve Municipalities Association.
The health and wellness cluster should be confident,consistent, congruent, coherent, and complimentary and composite (must include all the health and wellness products).
Algarve Destination Branding
The brand is a key component of a destination positioning (values and essence of the destination). The purpose of a brand is to establish a distinctive and memorable meaningful identity of a destination in the global market.
Brand includes cognitive dimensions (quality, safety, price and accessibility) and affective dimensions (happiness, pleasure and dream). Healthcare marketers emphasize the destination’s uniqueness.
However selling healthcare services is unique, because the quality of procedures and the client’s safety are essential.
The brand components are the brand identity (internal organizations orientation) and the brand image (external market orientation). The brand symbol is a metaphor for the Algarve brand identity.
The brand slogan is descriptive and persuasive information about Algarve health & wellness destination branding.
The main points to promote the health and wellness tourism attractiveness and competitive advantage of the Algarve are: excellence (exceeding expectations) –
functional and safe architecture of the healthcare facilities, qualified doctors, certified surgeons, qualified anaesthesiologists, nurses and others professionals, latest advanced technology, efficacious therapeutic procedures, faster medical services, affiliation with universities and research centers, humanization of healthcare, hospitality/hotel structure, healing climate, pleasant environment/landscapes, healthy gastronomy, partnership with luxury hotels and resorts.
About the Authors
João Viegas Fernandes is a founder and president of the Associação Portuguesa de Turismo de Saúde e Bem – Estar – APTSBE (Health and Wellness Tourism Portuguese Association).
He is also the architect and advisor to Algarve Region Health & Wellness Tourism Cluster and Destination Branding. He is considered a visionary, pioneer and expert in health and wellness in Portugal. As a professor, he conceptualized a discipline in health and wellness tourism, which he teaches in the School of Management, Hospitality and Tourism, of Algarve University.
Filomena Maurício Viegas Fernandes is a medical doctor specializing in public health. She was the health delegate in several municipalities in the Algarve region and has been responsible for a number of programs on public health. She has delivered presentations at various international conferences and is considered an expert in health and wellness tourism. She has been researching and teaching health and wellness tourism in the School of Management, Hospitality and Tourism, at Algarve University.