Wellness tourism is becoming increasingly important not only in Asia but also in other parts of the world. In recent years, countries such as Italy, Morocco, Spain or the USA are turning into popular destinations for wellness. While Asia accounts for some of the most prestigious wellness retreats around the world, Europe is still leading in terms of wellness trips.
In its annual Global Wellness Trends, released at the end of last year, the Global Wellness Institute indicates that the wellness industry was worth US$639.4 billion, including all the programmes, services and products dedicated to the wellbeing of people. According to GWT, wellness tourism is a segment that has been growing by 6.5% annually from 2015-2017 (more than twice the growth rate for general tourism) with travellers accounting for 830 million wellness trips in 2017, a growth of 139 million trips over 2015.
ACCORDING TO THE ANNUAL REPORT OF GLOBAL WELLNESS TRENDS, WELLNESS TOURISM IS A SEGMENT THAT HAS BEEN GROWING BY 6.5% ANNUALLY SINCE 2015-2017 WITH TRAVELLERS ACCOUNTING FOR 830 MILLION WELLNESS TRIPS IN 2017.
The blossoming of the wellness sector in the travel industry is driven by the rapid rise of the middle class around the world and particularly in Asia. According to the latest report, Europe remains the destination for the largest number of wellness trips, while North America leads in wellness tourism expenditures.
According to the Global Wellness Tourism Economy report, “Wellness tourism growth is very much a tale of developing markets, with Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean, Middle East-North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 57 per cent of the increase in wellness trips. Over the past five years, Asia is the number one growth sector in both wellness tourism trips and revenues.”
The report indicates that Asia-Pacific recorded 258 million trips with expenditures reaching US$ 136.7 bn in 2017. The continent was second after Europe with 292 million trips and ahead of North America with 204 million trips. Growth has been driven by an expanding global middle class, growing consumer desire to adopt a wellness lifestyle, rising interest in experiential travel, and increasing affordability of flights and travel options.
While there is a trend to practice holistic wellbeing at home or in a private environment, spas and hotels in Asia continue to attract travellers looking for a healthy mind and body. The continent has indeed some of the best renowned spas and wellness retreats in the world.
But many countries are now looking at promoting wellness destinations to their visitors. The wellness thematic is also a good way for governments to diversify their tourist market, by carving out a niche which will can help reduce seasonality, fighting over tourism by promoting secondary destinations.
The well-being factor is also accompanied by organic-driven gastronomy and eco-consumption and the inclusion of the person’s wishes. As an example, some luxury hotels offer free yoga sessions and meditation to their guests. A new trend is group of travellers bringing their own yoga coach.
Wellness retreats are even expanding into urban destinations with many brands moving into metropolises to create “city oases”.
As more consumers incorporate wellness into their lifestyles, there are many opportunities for the travel business to infuse wellness into their offerings and capture spending by wellness travellers.
Photo: Yoga at the Handara resort, Bali