WTA AGM November 2020

WTA AGM November 2020 2020-11-14T15:55:56+00:00

 As we continue to be mindful of everyone’s time, budget restrictions and safety concerns, our third Annual General Meeting will be held virtually on the Zoom platform.  

Mon. Nov. 16th is for WTA Members & Partners ONLY. All Members & Partners have been sent the registration link via email for Day 1 of this AGM. If you are a Member or Partner and have not received please contact us.

Tues. Nov. 17th & Wednesday Nov. 18th are open to ALL.  Register now for access to both days.

Our program (all times noted are EST): 

Monday, November 16  

11:00 am – Welcome and remarks – Andrew Gibson, Chairman

Chairman of the WTA, Andrew Gibson has been part of senior management teams for spa and wellness brands including Six Senses, Mandarin Oriental, Raffles, Fairmont, Pullman, MGallery and Sensei. Over the last 30+ years he has helped created global brands, operated in over 70 countries and managed multiple brands for large corporations while retaining the ability to guide startup companies and provide advice to world leaders or university students. A true global citizen he has lived in the USA, Middle East, Asia and Europe and has been a prominent figure through voluntary work with associations in advisory positions at universities.


11:10 – Introduction of Board of Directors

11:15 – Presentation on current status, accomplishments and projects in the works

Presenter:  Anne Dimon, President & CEO

Co-Founder and President /CEO of the Wellness Tourism Association, Anne Dimon has been a travel writer and industry journalist for close to 25 years, and has travelled the world as a columnist/contributor to a wide variety of publications. Anne is also Owner/ Editor of TravelToWellness.com launched in 2004 as the first online magazine/resource for the wellness-minded traveler. Prior to her life as a journalist, Anne was president of her own public relations company specializing in hospitality. She has also worked in the hotel industry as a director of public relations. An acknowledged wellness travel expert and industry consultant,  Anne is currently working with The Travel Institute to launch a Wellness Travel Specialist Course for travel agents. She is also the wellness travel advisor for WTM and ATM.


11:25 – WTA & YOU

Round-table / open discussion chaired by the Chairman to find out what Members want as we move forward into 2021. The good. And what could be better. Members will be allowed to have their say, and offer their suggestions and comments as both the WTA and YOU Move Forward together.

12:30 – Estimated time of the Round-table wrap up but this could be extended to 1:00 pm if needed. It will depend on how many members join in, so join us. We want to hear from YOU.

Tuesday, November 17

11:00 – Welcome and introduction to first session –  Anne Dimon 

11:02  –

Presenters: Laszlo Puczko and Danny Kessler 

In this session Laszlo Puczko covers academic and industry research about the future of wellness tourism conducted in collaboration with WTA in 2020. Danny Kessler briefly presents relevant takeaways from the 2020 Wellness Travel Consumer Survey and the two surveys are compared and contrasted.

Founder of Hungary-based Health Tourism Worldwide (HTWW) – successor to The Tourism Observatory for Health, Wellness and Spa) – László Puczko has been working in the field of travel and health for 20+ years and, during that time, has been lecturing, running customized trainings and development projects in over 40 countries. László will present the inaugural report on the results of online interviews conducted with more than 100 academics and industry experts, who have identified the main global and regional trends they are envisioning for wellness-motivated travel by 2025-2030.




Danny KesslerDanny Kessler has a Ph.D. in Wellness Tourism from Youngsan University in Busan South Korea. He is the author of two books and he has been mentioned on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News and Fox News Online, and in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He currently lives in Busan and conducts research for the South Korean Government, while also working in conjunction with the Wellness Tourism Association on various projects. Danny is also a wellness practitioner, trained as a Level 1 Holistic Lifestyle coach by the CHEK Institute in addition to being trained in TRE and MBSR.



11:25 –  Q & A Live

11:30 –

(Questions will be collected during this session and responded to in Part 2, Wed. Nov. 18.)

Moderator: Thomas Klein

A C-suite Executive with a 20+ year career, Thomas Klein was most recently President & COO of Canyon Ranch, the $260M+ global leader in healthy living and luxury wellness resorts. Previously, Thomas held executive-level and general managerial roles with Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel Hotel & Resorts. He has also worked for Movenpick Hotels & Resorts and Karos Hotels Limited as their SVP of Africa & Managing Director of Karos Hotels LTD, Hayman Island Resort as their General Manager. An active member of his industry and community, he serves on the Board of the WTA as Treasurer, is an Advisory Board Member of U.S. Travel and Tourism, and sits on the Advisory Board Member of Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures. Thomas is  founder of TAK Hospitality, consultants to the wellness, hospitality and real estate development sectors.


 Presenters: Emlyn Brown, Robert Herr and Tracey Welsh

Emlyn Brown, Accor Hotels

VP, ACCOR Wellbeing Luxury & Premium Brands, Emlyn Brown has over 20 years of international experience Since 1996 then, he has held progressive management positions throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and has led group operations of several leading luxury spa and fitness operators, including a managing director of an Asia-based hotel brand accountable for the management and growth of the portfolio in China and Southeast Asia. Emlyn has also held senior positions with GOGO Hospitality, and Six Senses Resorts & Spas where he was the regional director for Europe and later the operations director for Asia. Prior to working within luxury hospitality, Emlyn held senior operating roles with Holmes Place Lifestyle clubs in Switzerland and Germany.


Red Mountain Resort General Manager, Tracey Welsh, joined the team in 2001 and over the years helped earn Red Mountain many accolades including World’s Best Destination Spa by Travel & Leisure Magazine, Worlds Top 270 Spas by Conde Nast Magazine, Best of State and Best of St. George. In 2015 Welsh was recognized as Executive of the Year by the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce. She has held the positions of President of the St. George Lodging & Tourism Association, Secretary/Treasurer of the Utah Hotel & Lodging Association, and is one of the Founders of INKAS|Ivins No Kill Animal Supporters. She is also a member of the Red Rock Rotary Club, Committee Member of the Washington County Tourism Board and Intermountain Health Care|Southwest Region Foundation Board.



Robert P. Herr, an award-winning Swiss hotelier, is the General Manager of the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, Switzerland’s ultimate luxury resort. He has 30 years of experience working with luxury hotels in Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East. Mr. Herr joined the Bürgenstock Resort in January 2017. He has been responsible for the pre-opening activities and the opening of the resort in fall of 2017 with around 800 employees in peak season. Part of a CHF 550 million luxury resort complex that encompasses 383 guest rooms and suites in four hotels, 67 stunning residences with lake and Alpine views and 10 restaurants, lounges and bars. The Bürgenstock Resort offers two award-winning spas, the luxury, three-leve Alpine Spa with more than 10,000 m2 (108,000 square foot) and a 4,500 m2(47,000 square foot) Health & Medical Spa.


12.00 –

Moderator: Terry Stevens

Based in Wales, professor Terry Stevens is the managing director and founder of the multi-award winning tourism consultancy, Stevens & Associates that has now worked on destination development in over 55 countries around the world. Clients have included many of the international development agencies as well as tourist boards and private sector clients. In 2019 he was awarded the LUXLIFE Best destination Development Expert Award and in 2020 published his highly acclaimed books Wish You Were Here: The Stories Behind 50 of the World’s Great Destinations and The Art and Science of Destination Management. He is a regular speaker at global events and ministerial summits and is the founder of the Tourism Futures Blog.



Presenters: Joyce Kiehl, Misa Novak and Gabriela Escobar

As Director of Communications for the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, Joyce Kiehl leads a team responsible for all public, media and film-industry relations for the nine-city region. A native Californian, Kiehl joined the organization in 2009 after having the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom for 18 years with her three now-grown children. Prior to that, she worked as entertainment publicist for KRON-TV in San Francisco after beginning her career in radio at KTAR in Phoenix. Kiehl graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in International Relations and Economics.




With over 24 years’ experience across a wide spectrum of the tourism industry, Miša Novak is currently Director of ALOHAS – a boutique tourism consulting firm. As a co-founder of a non-profit institute GoodPlace – Factory for Sustainable Tourism she is actively involved in implementing sustainable destination management practices in companies and at the destination level. Miša has two specialties within the tourism industry: sustainable destination development and developing authentic brands based on each destination’s DNA. From 2017 to 2019, she was the Strategic Project Manager at Slovenian Tourist Board, responsible for implementing the new organization model in Slovenian tourism, and launching the Big Idea Communication Platform for the country’s I feel Slovenia brand, as well as developed the platform for accelerating and certifying authentic Slovene experiences.


Maria Gabriela Escobar is Product Coordinator, Tourism Products Management, Argentina – National Institute of Tourism Promotion (INPROTUR.)  She has a tourism degree from Universidad Argentina de la Empresa, and Postgraduate Degree in Marketing and Commercial Management, as well as a Trainer of Trainers, Business Leadership Challenge Programs and the Financial Administration Program of the National Public Sector. Maria Gabriela has al worked in international hotel chains, travel agencies, with tour operators and  travel assistance companies. In the academic field, Maria worked as a young professional in the Hospitality Area of ​​the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa, coordinating various activities including training seminars and as a professor at varios professional training institutions offering tourism and hospitality-related courses.


12:25 Q & A Live

12:30  –

Moderator: Molly Anderson

Molly Anderson is Vice President Sales at Canyon Ranch.  For 40+ years Canyon Ranch has helped individuals and groups explore, discover and pursue a life of wellbeing. As VP of Sales for Canyon Ranch, Molly leads a team of sales professionals dedicated to partnering with clients to find solutions that deliver on wellness intentions for leisure travel and corporate retreats.




Presenters: Muirelle Montecalvo, Kiron Dhaliwal, Loulu Lima and Jen Corley

Vacayou Founder and CEO Muirelle Montecalvo has spent her life and work focused in the travel and hospitality industry. She has a passion for traveling and living a healthy and active lifestyle led to the launch of Vacayou. She has been part of many successful start-ups such as Expedia, Groupon, Groupon Getaways, and Fishbowl. She was honored to be recognized as the top sales executive nationwide in securing initial hotel advertisers for the launch of Microsoft’s website Expedia, one of the world’s leading online travel companies. Her career spans launching very successful new market strategies, new products and building high-performing teams. Muirelle holds her B.A. in Geography and International Studies and worked on her M.Sc. in Leadership and Global Management at NEU.


Kiron Dhaliwal is Chief Operating Officer at MyLifeWell.com, a comprehensive online wellness platform which supports wellness enthusiasts through the core pillars of Live Well, Travel Well and Shop Well. Kiron is also the Founder of Concierge Vacations Inc., a Virtuoso affiliated travel agency and, as a certified Well Being Travel Specialist, has been focusing on wellness travel for many years. She started her career in Silicon Valley, having earned her B.S. in Computer Engineering and subsequently her MBA, and is now leveraging her experience in technology, travel and wellness to help bring personal and social well-being to a global audience.



An industry veteran for 22+ years, Loulu Lima is the founder of Book Here, Give Here based in Austin, Texas, and with independent contractors throughout the U.S.  She believes that wellness is not only about mind, body, spirit, but it also encompasses the socially responsible aspects.  Book Here, Give Here is about making a clients’ amazing vacation also socially responsible.  The agency donates a portion of commissions earned from suppliers to various charities so travelers can, by booking with Book Here, Give Here, give back while having fun. The company can also organize “voluntourism” opportunities for clients.



Jen Corley heads the Wellness division of WeTravel, a payment and registration platform for the travel industry. Founded in San Francisco in 2015, WeTravel now employs a team of 50+ engineering, sales, marketing, operations, and support professionals on four continents. In her role as Head of Wellness, Jen is responsible for strategic development, including oversight of sales, marketing, branding, PR, and communications. She leads a team that creates and distributes educational content, manages strategic partnerships and community relationships, and organizes online and live events. Prior to WeTravel, she was a Senior Associate focused on investment strategy at Pantheon, a global private equity firm. She is a certified yoga instructor, member of the Global Wellness Institute’s Immersion Initiative, and holds a BA in Economics from Harvard as well as an MA in Religious Studies from Stanford.


12:50 Q & A and wrap up.

Wednesday,  November 18 

11:00 Welcome and introduction of first session – Andrew Gibson  

11:05 –

Presenters: Tiffany Misrahi, Jessica Blotter, Gregory Millar

WTTC’s Vice President of Policy Tiffany Misrahi is responsible for shaping the Travel & Tourism sector’s policy agenda. Prior to joining WTTC in 2018, Tiffany spent 8 years with the World Economic Forum and was responsible for designing the industry agenda and developing and managing strategic partnerships with industry leaders. She was the co-editor of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness report and led the design and implementation of new initiatives including the Future of Security in Travel, and Travel, Tourism & Outbreaks. While at the International Trade Centre, she collaborated on the development and implementation of its Tourism-led Poverty Reduction Programme. Tiffany has a MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She recently completed an Executive Master in Leadership as part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Leadership Fellows Programme.


Jessica Blotter is CEO & Co-Founder of Kind Traveler, a keynote speaker and journalist on sustainable tourism, a guest lecturer at UCLAx, and serves on the Board of Directors for CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) in Washington, D.C.  KindTraveler.com is the first Give + Get hotel booking and media platform that empowers travelers to positively impact the communities they visit. Blotter’s efforts on behalf of Kind Traveler have been cited in 500+ news articles and publications and also earned a Travel + Leisure 2020 Global Vision Award. She holds a M.A. in Education from Ottawa University and a B.S. in Biology from Arizona State University.



Dr. Gregory Miller, a global leader in sustainable travel, conservation and recreation, joined the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) as Executive Director in 2019. He is also a founder of the newly formed Future of Tourism Coalition.  For 25 years, Gregory served as VP, Andes Region at The Nature Conservancy, President of the American Hiking Society, and as Latin America and Caribbean Environmental Advisor for USAID. A responsible travel and environment expert cited by The New York Times, TheWashington Post, Newsweek, CNN, Forbes, Condé Nast Traveler, TravelPulse, TheGlobe and Mail, Expedia, Kiplinger, Skift, AFAR, Travel + Leisure, and Architectural Digest, Gregregory holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and was awarded a Science, Engineering, and Diplomacy post-doctoral fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


 11:35 – Q & A

11:40 –  

(This session will be the Q & A from Part 1)

Moderator: Thomas Klein

Presenters: Emlyn Brown, Tracey Welsh and Robert Herr

Noon  – 

This session will look at Democratization as it refers to wellness travel, and what we do about it. How to make your product or service more accessible to a diverse population including socioecomonic, racial and geographic demographics.

Introduction: Anne Dimon

Presenters  – Sabriya Dobbins, Emlyn Brown

Founder and CEO of Project-Passport Sabriya Dobbins graduated from North Carolina State University with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Animal Science and Social Work. She launched Project Passport, a mental empowerment retreat and event company, with the dream of providing a transformational travel experience that focused more on supporting the participants and their mental well-being rather than escaping their problems. Sabriya is a strong believer in combining self-development, personal growth, and mental wellness to help people achieve elevated lives full of joy. With her unconventional activity ideas, she allows mental wellbeing to be an interactive and experimental process for people, which is what it should be



Emlyn Brown, Accor Hotels

VP, ACCOR Wellbeing Luxury & Premium Brands, Emlyn Brown has over 20 years of international experience Since 1996 then, he has held progressive management positions throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and has led group operations of several leading luxury spa and fitness operators, including a managing director of an Asia-based hotel brand accountable for the management and growth of the portfolio in China and Southeast Asia. Emlyn has also held senior positions with GOGO Hospitality, and Six Senses Resorts & Spas where he was the regional director for Europe and later the operations director for Asia. Prior to working within luxury hospitality, Emlyn held senior operating roles with Holmes Place Lifestyle clubs in Switzerland and Germany.




 Introduction – Andrew Gibson

 Presenter: Jeffrey Ment


WTA Member Jeffrey Ment, Managing Partner at Ment Law Group in Connecticut looks at legal concerns and how to protect your business interests in a post-pandemic world. He will address the issues ranging from liability waivers, contract provisions and trip protection coverage.

For close to 30 years, Jeff  has provided legal representation to companies and individuals in the tourism industry, with clients spanning the globe and many in the wellness space. His experience ranges from helping form new companies to defending lawsuits. His focus is ensuring that clients are always ahead of the curve – following best practices. This includes risk management, regulatory compliance, seller of travel registration, IATA/ARC issues, vendor selection, tour director training, and insurance coverage. As a former travel advisor, airline sales manager and tour guide, he relies on personal experience to understand what travel clients need.


12:45 Q & A

12:50 Wrap Up  – Chairman and President

Tues. Nov. 17th & 18th is open to ALL.  Register now for access to both days.

If you have any questions please contact us at Admin@WellnessTourismAssociation.org