COVID-19 and the Travel Industry: Exploring New Markets in Wellness

Fain, Nusa | $24,210

Ontario Queen's University 2021 SSHRC

Tourism industry has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, as travel restrictions have caused a steep decline in travel across the globe. GVQ and Queen’s University have partnered up in this project to help GVQ, a travel agency, explore the potential to develop new streams of revenue within the domestic tourism space.

As a result of COVID-19, many industries, including healthcare, have reported increased burnout within their workforce. Wellness is now at the forefront of approaches to help workforce manage stress and take care of their mental health in the stressful workplace environments. GVQ has identified such industries as a potential opportunity for offering wellness type solutions to.

The goal of this collaborative project is to explore domestic wellness tourism to help GVQ re-design their business model and ensure future growth. As a starting point, the project will focus on physicians as the initial target segment GVQ could engage with in their new offerings.

The partnership will look at the business, study the entrepreneurship environment in the context of wellness tourism and explore wellness of physicians as a potential niche market.

The partner, GVQ will provide the tourism industry expertise, as they have been active in the market for the last 40 years. They will lead in the exploration of the wellness programs they can offer, whereas Smith School of Business, Queen’s University will offer the academic rigor and theoretical research context that will allow the re-design of GVQ’s business model for future growth in the post pandemic area.

The main objectives of this project are:

1.To explore, critique and refine the theoretical models related to wellness and business models in the tourism industry

2.To define, validate and refine the empirical models (interview, survey and data collection methods) in order to understand business opportunities within the wellness and tourism industry.

3.To redesign the business model for the partner organization (GVQ) to include wellness for physicians and pilot it in the market.

4.To write high quality academic and business-focused reports to disseminate our findings.

We expect the project to have impact in the following areas:

1. For the partner, new revenue streams will be developed that will help them maintain and grow their position in the market. They will be able to cater for new markets and redeploy the developed models to other segments within industries whose employees work in stressful environments.

2. For academia, we will validate a model for wellness tourism in domestic markets and disseminate knowledge through reputable peer-reviewed journals.

Building on theory of planned behavior, industrial engineering design and management perspectives, this research aims at developing a framework that tourism industry may use in order to create, communicate and deliver wellness oriented solutions to physicians.

3. For the research assistant the partnership will provide an opportunity to engage, learn and develop as a scholar. Under the supervision of Dr. Nusa Fain the RA will engage in academic research ,writing and dissemination of results that should build their position within the industry as well.

4. For the wider audience, particularly employees working in stressful environments, the newly developed programs will provide an avenue to manage burnout, consequently contributing a more effective workforce to the industry.

Exploring the relationship between stressful workplace and the demand for wellness retreats within the domestic market will be beneficial for the travel companies, as the models we develop will be generalized to other specialized packages that GVQ offers to practitioners.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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