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Rediscovering the province of Cáceres as an active wellness destination

Cáceres wants to take advantage of the active well-being potential to attract a new tourist demand, retain travellers who already know the attractions of this Spanish province, and open to other international markets. As follows, we dive deep in the active well-being value proposition from Caceres, in the context of the growth of experiential tourism in Spain, Europe and the world.

Although Spain has been, for many years, a destination recognised in the world for its extensive cultural heritage, the main demand driver for domestic and international demand along with sun and beach tourism, efforts to beat seasonality are opening new avenues to develop other tourist products, able to make the most of the variety of natural resources and diverse landscapes that can be enjoyed throughout the Spanish territory. In this context, and in particular after the pandemic, we have witnessed the growth of experiential motivations as drivers to choose travel destinations, as a consequence of the transformation of travellers, who are increasingly looking for authentic connections within the destination, more proactive and linked to well-being, which creates opportunities for many Spanish destinations.

These are some of the main arguments discussed at the 1st Conference on Wellness Tourism in the Rural World: Bienestando!, organised by Diputación Provincial de Cáceres, with the support of Spain’s Secretary of State for Tourism and the Regional Government of Extremadura. During this conference, we have shared with the Cáceres tourism sector how this province and the Ambroz-Cáparra region can take advantage of their potential as active well-being destinations.

As we have already pointed out in previous analyses, wellness tourism is evolving towards more active interaction formulas with the destination, aligning itself with an expanded vision of well-being. It is a global trend that brings a new perspective to the planning and promotion of smart destinations that the local industry can take advantage of, understanding the factors behind this transition from traditional, contemplative and relaxing wellness tourism to the concept of active well-being. Ultimately, the aim is to develop strategies that respond to the new motivations and interests of post-pandemic travellers. With this global approach, we have focused on the potential of the province of Cáceres to become an active well-being destination, analysing the consolidated demand and satisfaction data for the entire year 2023.

Culture + active wellness: “bridge experiences” to attract more segments

One of the differentiating assets of the province of Cáceres is the fact that it has a very defined positioning both as a cultural destination and as a place of interest for practicing sports or enjoying outdoor spaces. The truth is that travellers who choose Cáceres do so very much oriented towards specific drivers, so it is essential to expand the experiences by creating bridges between them, which will lengthen stays, increase spending at the destination, and build complementary experiences, so travellers can discover other aspects of Cáceres beyond the main demand drivers that brought them to the destination.

When analysing the target inbound markets, the potential of “bridge experiences” becomes more evident:

  • For the domestic and Portuguese markets, culture and gastronomy are very powerful motivations for visiting Cáceres. So is active well-being (the combination of nature, sports disciplines of varying degrees of specialisation, and conventional wellbeing activities, such as thermal baths and spa), which is very relevant for 1 in 4 Spaniards and for 21% of Portuguese. Considering the structure of demand by age, combined experiences of culture and gastronomy with active well-being can contribute to the objective of lengthening stays and increasing spending per tourist, and developing products that “connect” all local attractions in an organic way. The age segmentation of Spanish and Portuguese visitors are very similar: on average, 4 out of 10 travelers are between 35 and 44 years old, and 17% are between 25 and 34 years old, all of them ideal targets for combined experiences in which they perceive added value, which will also contribute to increasing their satisfaction with the destination.
  • As in the case of Spain and Portugal, the distribution of demand drivers for Cáceres among the key markets of continental Europe (France, Italy and Germany) is very similar: for a third of French and Germans, culture and heritage is the most important reason to visit the province, and gastronomy ranks second. This suggests that, in order to position Cáceres as a wellness destination, cultural activities that combine other types of active well-being experiences can contribute to diversifying segments (for example, reinforcing family tourism or segments related to outdoor sports, birdwatching, winemaking, etc.), attracting a demand with a greater spending capacity and willing to spend more time in the destination. The distribution by age groups reinforces this opportunity to create bridge experiences and products, for example, enjoying and learning about historical heritage through active well-being activities and experiences, adapted to various physical skills and abilities. This also opens up windows of opportunity to adapt tourism products and services to younger age groups (to build loyalty), and to travellers aged 55 and over and silver travellers, who represent an average of 23% of French, Italian and German visitors to Cáceres.
  • In the case of English-speaking markets (the United States and the United Kingdom), there is great potential in strengthening gastronomic tourism and active well-being as a combined product, and as part of the cultural attractions that are the fundamental pillar of demand drivers for American and British travellers. Gastronomy as an essential part of well-being is a strong trend in both markets, and Cáceres has the opportunity to differentiate its value proposition in this sense, with experiences that put the authenticity of its culinary traditions, local and zero-kilometre products, and traditional recipes at the centre of the active wellbeing offer. With virtually 6 in 10 American and British travellers aged between 35 and 54, “bridging experiences” offer a lot of potential to extend stays and spending, and to increase satisfaction with tourism products.

Inter-territorial collaboration to enrich tourism experiences

Considering the particularities of demand and the opportunities that arise from it, the data suggest that inter-territorial collaboration between various providers of tourism experiences and services, with public administrations and local authorities, is an essential part of the efforts to structure the offer and to properly promote it in the target source markets.

Addressing the design and promotion of active wellness tourism experiences, taking into account the situation in Cáceres, also implies considering the opportunities and challenges in terms of traveller’s satisfaction with the tourism and hotel offer, as well as the perception of security and climate, in its main source markets.It is worth highlighting that the British, Germans and Spaniards are the most satisfied source markets with the Cáceres value proposition, that is, those that show a higher Global Tourist Perception Index (year 2023). However, the Tourist Product Satisfaction Index (or in other words, the travellers’ assessment on the experiences at the destination, based on their expectations) must be strengthened in the United States, France and Portugal, which will contribute to greater overall satisfaction with the destination.

On the other hand, the Climate and Security Perception Indexes and Hotel Satisfaction Index are very similar or higher than the rest of Spain, an achievement that is worth highlighting when promoting the destination in foreign markets. In the case of hotel satisfaction, it is crucial to improve this index in mid-range categories (4-star and especially 3-star), because they are a relevant factor in attracting more international travellers, both to design appealing tourist packages and also to consolidate longer average stays.

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