Well-being and Tourism

 Well-being and Tourism – the role of Environmental Aesthetics

Environmental factors have a psychological impact on our personal well-being, as recognized by the 1989 WHO European Charter on Environment and Health:

good health and well-being require a clean and harmonious environment in which physical, psychological, social and aesthetic factors are all given their due importance’.   1. ( WHO. 1989.  European Charter on Environment and Health;)

These considerations are of particular importance for the tourist industry, which contributes to the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of many areas. In order to ensure the enjoyment and well-being of both visitors and host population, attention needs to be paid not only to con­trol­ling environmental hazards which might endanger health and safety, but also to the aesthetic features of the local environment which enhance the pleasure to be experienced there.

The aesthetic quality of an environment can be defined as the extent to which an external factor or combination of factors evokes a pleasurable emotional response from the five senses — sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. The resonance induced by this stimulus-response can promote positive self-affirmation, enhance well-being and encourage positive identity with the causal environmental factors.

This phenomenon applies not only to the natural environment but to architecture and the built environment, and to art works in any medium, all of which impinge on our senses and have the potential to enhance our enjoy­ment of the exter­nal world and increase emotional well-being.

Closely linked to the aesthetic quality of an environment is the cultural her­itage of the area.  If carefully developed this can contribute to the economic suc­cess of tourism for a local community, providing an opportunity for cross-cultural exchange while helping to preserve customs and revitalize a sense of pride in their heritage in the local population.

Robin Philipp’s involvement in this area combines his interests in Public Health, Environmental Health Promotion and the role of the Arts in Health and Well-being, as evidenced in the selected publications available here for download.


1. WHO. 1989.  European Charter on Environment and Health; pub. WHO Regional Office for Europe, ICP/RUD/113/conf.Doc.1rev.2  2803r, 7 December, 7pp.

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The Association of Tourist Health with Aesthetic Quality and Environmental Values

An unpublished report for the WHO, October 1998 which looks at the interde­pendence of economic well-being, tourist health and environmental values and suggests that paradigms from both arts and science are needed to fully explore this area.

Download:      Tourist health aesthetic qualities environmental values

For further information email: Robin.Philipp@UHBristol.nhs.uk

Aesthetic Quality of the Built and Natural Environment.  Why does it matter?

This book chapter in the WHO publication Green Cities, Blue Cities of Europe (2001) discusses the effects of the aesthetic quality of built and nat­ural envi­ron­ments on human health and well-being. A comparison is made with people’s response to an appreciation of art, and ways in which this can be used in the environment to meet psychological need.  A 10-point community health gains model is proposed to help evaluate the benefits to health associ­ated with the aesthetic quality of environmental projects.

This chapter and the World Health Organisation (WHO) conference presentation on which it is based are given as a tribute to Dr. Ernst Philipp (1909–2000), general practitioner, life-long humanist, environmentalist, and futurist to the former WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Promotion & Ecology, University of Bristol, UK. Ernst was working with the Cen­tre for Health in Employment and the Environment, Bristol Royal Infir­mary, on the AESOHP programme (A Euro­pean Sense of Healthy Places and Pur­pose), a new research and development programme with links to the WHO Healthy Cities Project. The concepts, frameworks and projects were devel­oped with him. He left us with views such as that stated in our audit reports to WHO of work as a Collaborating Centre:  ‘Every thing in life is con­nected’,  and: ‘Let us hope we can dream reality for a long time yet’.

Down­load full document here:  Aesthetic Quality Of The Built And Natural Environment

For further information email: Robin.Philipp@UHBristol.nhs.uk

An Ecological Sense of Healthy Place and Purpose

This book chapter is based on a presentation in 2002 to the Third European Conference on Travel Medicine, organised by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Tourist Health and Travel Medicine, Rimini, Italy. It builds on the above presentation exploring why and how aesthetic qualities of the environent matter to health and well-being, sets out a research framework, and an out­line for collaborations.

Download full report:    An Ecological Sense of Healthy Place and Purpose

For further information email:  Robin.Philipp@UHBristol.nhs.uk

Psychological Health and Emotional Well-being when Abroad

This book chapter is based on a presentation in 2004 to the Fourth European Conferences on Travel Medicine, organised by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Tourist Health and Travel Medicine, Rome, Italy.

The chapter addresses the psychological support that can be attained from identifying with the imagery of place and purpose, explores the basis of human values, examines ways psychological and emotional health can be helped through improved personal understanding, and outlines ways of improving personal security when abroad.

Download here: Psychological Health and Emotional Well-being when Abroad.

For further information email:  Robin.Philipp@UHBristol.nhs.uk

The Assessment, Prevention and Control of Health Risks in Tourist Establishments in the Mediterranean.

A working document for The Mediterranean Pollution Action Programme, (MED-POL), WHO-UNEP, January 2007

This comprehensive report on environmental factors associated with risks to tourist health and well-being in Mediterranean resorts covers a wide range of physical hazards, from air and water quality to food safety and communicable diseases.  It also looks at those factors which may not cause physical harm but are aesthetically offensive, such as litter or non-toxic algae, and which therefore have a detrimental effect on tourist numbers. The report discusses sustainable tourism and includes suggested frameworks for Action Research to assess and prioritize hazards.

Download report here :   WHO Environmental health risks assessment tourism fullreport

For further information email:  Robin.Philipp@UHBristol.nhs.uk

Meeting on Health Risks Associated with Tourist Establishments in the Mediterranean.

Report of a joint WHO-UNEP meeting in Athens in 2007, to discuss the above report, prioritize risks and plan future action.

Download here full report:  Health risks associated with Tourist Establishments in the Mediterranean

For further information email:   Robin.Philipp@UHBristol.nhs.uk

Guidelines for Implementing the Plan of Action on Environmental Health Risks in Tourist Establishments.

A working document for the Mediterranean Pollution Action Programme, (MED-POL),WHO-UNEP, March 2011.

These practical guidelines provide a framework for central and local decision making to ensure sustainable development while controlling or preventing environmental health hazards for tourists and ensuring their well-being and that of local populations and workers in the tourist industry.  The interdepen­dence of sustainable development, health and well-being forms a basis for the guide-lines, and the importance of culture and heritage is discussed in detail in Welcome page of this website.  The need for education and the dissemination of best practice is stressed.

Download pdf here    GUIDELINES for Implementing the Plan of Action on Environmental  Health Risks

For further information email:  Robin.Philipp@UHBristol.nhs.uk

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