From the spectacular Onsen regions in Japan to our very own Peninsula Hot Springs here in Victoria, hot springs evoke renewal, serenity and natural beauty. With numerous hot springs centres in development in Australia, the industry is poised to grow significantly over the next ten years. A new research project will measure the impact of hot springs in regional Australia.

Gaelle Joson’s PhD research project will explore the socio-cultural, environmental, and economic impacts of Australian hot springs in regional destinations and will identify how these impacts can be measured. This research is funded by the Australian Geothermal association and Victoria University.

As demand for health promotion and relaxation services increase, wellness as a tourism segment has progressively grown as a field of academic and practical interest. Part of this trend is the popularity of hot springs and hydrotherapy. Growth in the industry is forecast to be significant over the next ten years. However, there has been little academic investigation of the industry, its impacts, or its significance as a tourism phenomenon.

This research project will investigate the emergence of the hot springs industry in Australia, and develop a set of indicators as tool to measure the impacts of hot springs and to provide a baseline for longitudinal measurement of hot springs operations both in Australia and globally.

The indicators will be developed through the use of the Delphi technique (Dalkey & Helmer 1963) and will be tested in up to 10 hot spring destinations across regional Australia. The aim is to refine a set of indicators that will be valid for any hot springs’ sites, enable comparison between hot springs developments and provide a benchmark for performance measurement.