Why Blue Spaces and Wellbeing Matter for Tourism and Leisure Businesses

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


Blue Spaces, defined as all natural surface waters- form a vital part of the human-nature interface in the tourism and leisure sectors. Much research has been conducted on green spaces in nature-based tourism, but the work on blue spaces lags behind somewhat. While often taken for granted as a backdrop to tourism, - oceans, seas, lakes and rivers are, in fact, often pivotal in tourist destination decision-making. This chapter explores how blue spaces are linked to wellbeing, and how they can be framed as ’therapeutic landscapes’, where physical, psychological, and social wellbeing parameters are improved for visitors. Furthermore, tourism businesses and DMOs are encouraged to learn about the wellbeing benefits of their own nearby blue spaces, in order to better position their services and destination to a wider range of visitors. Thinking innovatively and collaboratively is critical to the effective delivery of visitor-experiences that merge the expertise of the worlds of health, wellbeing and natural environments within the realm of tourism.

The Covid 19 pandemic era of multiple lockdowns saw a wave of immense societal claustrophobia, where humans reached out in huge numbers, to nature, and in particular, to water, for solace. Nature-connection values have since been strongly reinforced (Lu et al, 2021; Labib et al, 2022), and this now poses enormous opportunities for the wider tourism industry, particularly wellbeing and nature-based tourism sectors. This chapter takes a UK focus and presents a saltwater, coastal blue space example of the city of Brighton in southern England to assess blue space wellbeing tourism. Wider sectoral policy and tourism business practice recommendations are made for centralising wellbeing and blue spaces in product, service and destination offerings. As such, this work therefore offers a unique moment-in-time analysis of opportunities for the sector to capitalise on the post-Covid human need to reconnect with self, others and our blue environment. It is through understanding the tenets of wellbeing, blue space offerings and the interplay of stakeholders and policy imperatives that beneficial leverage of the current world-context can be applied. Tourism businesses are in a unique position to develop creative, collaborative tourism experiences, grounded in research-informed approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Research Agenda for Tourism and Wellbeing
EditorsHenna Konu, Melanie K. Smith
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar
ISBN (Electronic)9781803924342
ISBN (Print)9781803924335
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2024


  • wellbeing
  • wellbeing tourism
  • blue spaces
  • water and wellbeing
  • sustainable tourism


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