Activity-based market segmentation of visitors to thermal spring resorts in the Western Cape Province, South Africa: Assessing the potential for health tourism development
There are eight thermal spring resorts in the Western Cape. Only one of these resorts has a focus on health and wellness, with the others functioning primarilyas family leisure resorts. Considering apparent domestic and international preferences, it would seem that a potentially valuable natural resource, that is, mineral-rich thermal spring water, is not being optimally utilized as a tourist attraction in the Western Cape. This research set out to assess the potential for health tourism development of thermal springs in the Western Cape. A questionnaire-based survey was undertaken, involving 383 respondents at six resorts, and activity-based market segmentation was carried out using k-means cluster analysis. A four-segment typology of current visitors, based on activity preferences, was compiled. It was found that the main divisions between visitors are, firstly, between ‘active’ visitors who generally desire and make use of facilities and organised entertainment, and ‘passive’ visitors, who make little to no use of facilities and organised entertainment; and secondly, between visitors who choose activities mainly for themselves, and those who choose activities for both themselves and their children. One of the four segments appears to show particular interest in both medical and wellness health tourism activities. However, most visitors, through their choice of activities, are able to gain considerable health benefits from their stays at thermal spring resorts, but they do so in different ways, and this is reflected in various combinations of active and passive activities.
Keywords: Health tourism, wellness tourism, thermal springs, activity-based market segmentation, cluster analysis.