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Health, Wellbeing, Tourism and Leisure (HWTL) Research Team

The centre would focus on research, training and consultancy. The scope of projects would include leisure and tourism activities that contribute to health and wellbeing. Some areas of interest could be wellness and medical tourism, spa management, health tourism destination development, liveable cities and quality of life. Some key themes will be sustainable development, service quality, employee wellbeing, customer experience design, marketing and branding.

Leader of the research team:

Dr. Melanie Kay Smith

Associate Professor

Dr Melanie Kay Smith is co-author of the book Health, Tourism and Hospitality: Spas, Wellness and Medical Travel (2013), The Spa Manager’s Essential Guide (2020) and is one of the founders of HTTWLife ( She has worked for many years on issues relating to health tourism, spas, wellness and wellbeing. She has lectured extensively on these subjects in Hungary, Estonia, Austria, Germany and Switzerland and has published many books, journal articles and chapters in these areas. She has been an Expert Advisor for the Global Spa Summit (Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism: Where do Spas Fit?), Gifts of Health (Islamic Wellness Traditions) and ETC/UNWTO (Health Tourism Study), as well as working on projects in the Baltic States and Switzerland. From 2013-2015, she was a main researcher for a Balkan Wellbeing project at METU funded by the Hungarian government and involving eleven countries. From 2013-2016, she was Representative for Hungary and Chair of a Working Group in the EU COST project Tourism, Wellbeing and Ecosystem Services. In 2020-2021, she was the Co-ordinator of the Visegrad 4 country project entitled:  WellSpaV4: Challenges and Opportunities for Spas. She has been an invited Keynote Speaker at international Health and Wellness Conferences in numerous countries. In addition, she is an expert on cities and urban tourism based on her PhD research and subsequent studies of overtourism, resident wellbeing and quality of life.

Lead researchers:

László Puczkó Dr
Lecturer, Researcher, Consultant and Founder of HTWWLife
Mike Wallace 
Lecturer and Former Spa Director at Danubius for 20 years
Monika Vadai 
Lecturer and wellness practitioner, nutritional expert and yoga teacher

Mátyás Hinek Dr PhD
Head of the Tourism Department and researcher in health destination seasonality

Gábor Bódis 
Lecturer and Destination management and marketing expert

The goal of the research team:

  • To undertake projects on leisure and tourism activities that contribute to health and wellbeing
  • To engage in health, medical and wellness tourism development and destination management
  • To help create sustainable, smart and liveable cities with a high quality of life
  • To advise on spa development and improvement
  • To provide wellbeing oriented organizational management solutions (e.g. for employee wellbeing)
  • To provide short courses and training programmes for hotel, spa and tourism employees (online and offline)
  • To provide consultancy services for spas, wellness hotels and health tourism destinations (e.g. marketing, customer service, experience design)
  • To produce short studies and reports that could be useful for policy makers and practitioners


  • Smith M. K., Jancsik, A. and Puczkó, L. (2021) Customer satisfaction in post-socialist spas, International Journal of Spa and Wellness, 3, 1-22.
  • Wallace, M. G. and Smith, M. K. (2020) The Spa Manager’s Essential Guide, Oxford: Goodfellow.
  • Smith, M. and Wallace, M. (2020) An analysis of key issues in spa management: viewpoints from international industry professionals, International Journal of Spa and Wellness, doi: 10.1080/24721735.2020.1819706
  • Smith M.K. and Puczkó L. (2020) Post-Socialist Tourism Trajectories in Budapest: From Under-Tourism to Over-Tourism, in Slocum S.and Klitsounova V. (eds) Tourism Development in Post-Soviet Nations, Palgrave Macmillan,
  • Smith, M. K. and Klicek, T. (2020) Tourism Cities in Post-Communist Countries, in Morrison, A. M. and Coca-Stefaniak, A. J. (eds) Routledge Handbook of Tourism Cities, London: Routledge, pp. 493-507, 
  • Diekmann, A., Smith, M. and Ceron, J-P. (2020) From Welfare to Wellness: European Spas at the Crossroads, in Diekmann, A. and McCabe, S. (eds) Handbook of Social Tourism, Camberley: Edward Elgar Publishing, Chapter 9.
  • Marton, G., Hinek, M., Kiss, R.,and Csapó, J. (2019) Measuring seasonality at the major spa towns of Hungary, Hungarian Geographical Bulletin, 68(4), 391-403.
  • Smith, M. K., Pinke Sziva, I. and Olt, G. (2019) Overtourism and Resident Resistance in Budapest, Tourism Planning & Development, 16(4), pp. 376-392, doi:10.1080/21568316.2019.1595705
  • Smith, M. K. and Puczkó, L. (2018) Thermal Spas, Well-being and Tourism in Budapest, in Uysal, M., Sirgy, M. J. and Kruger, S. (eds) Managing Quality of Life in Tourism and Hospitality, Wallingford: CAB International, pp.103-118.
  • Smith, M. K. (2018) Wellness in the ’U-bend’ of Life: why the core market is middle-aged and female,International Journal of Spa and Wellness,doi:10.1080/24721735.2018.1438480
  • Smith, M. K., Sulyok, J., Jancsik, A., Puczkó, L., Kiss, K., Sziva, I., Papp-Váry, A. and Michalkó, G. (2018) Nomen est omen – Tourist image of the Balkans, Hungarian Geographical Bulletin, 67 (2), 173–188
  • Smith, M.K. and Puczkó, L. (2017) (eds) Routledge Handbook of Health Tourism, London: Routledge.
  • Smith, M. K. and Puczkó, L. (2017) Balneology and health tourism, in Smith, M. K. and Puczkó, L. (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Health Tourism, London: Routledge, pp. 271-281.
  • Smith, M. K. & Diekmann, A. (2017) Tourism and Wellbeing, Annals of Tourism Research,66, pp. 1-13.
  • Puczkó, L. (2016) Budapest Thermal Spa Research: Summary for the Ministry of National EconomyBudapest: Xellum kft.
  • Smith, M.K. and Puczkó, L. (2015) More than a special interest: Defining and determining the demand for health tourism,Tourism Recreation Research, 40 (2), pp. 205-219.
  • Smith, M. K. (2015) Baltic Health Tourism: Uniqueness and Commonalities, Scandinavian Journal of Tourism and Hospitality, 15(4), 357-379,
  • Smith, M. K., Puczkó, L. and Sziva, I. (2015) Putting the thermal back into medical tourism, in Lunt, N., Horsfall, D. and Hanefeld, J. (eds) Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, pp.393-402.
  • Smith, M. K. and Puczkó, L. (2013) Health, Tourism and Hospitality: Spas, Wellness and Medical Travel, London: Routledge.
  • Michalkó, G., Rátz, T. and Hinek, M. (2012) Spatial differences in Hungarian medical tourism supply based on service providers' online presence, Hungarian Geographical Bulletin, 61(1), 31-47.