Eight Statistics That Define the State of Wellness Tourism

Wellness tourism is on the rise

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness tourism as journeys ‘made by tourists who seek to improve or maintain their well-being during or as a result of their trip’.

But if you look a little closer, what truly defines it as an industry? What does it look like in the modern day, and where is it headed? Join us as we explore eight key statistics shaping the state of wellness tourism…

1) Wellness tourism is projected to grow by more than 9% per year through 2017, nearly 50% faster than overall global tourism

This astounding statistic from the Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report (GWTER) gives real perspective into just how popular this booming industry has become. Global travel and tourism in general has shown incremental growth over the last few years – hitting new highs in revenue – but this has been overshadowed by the proliferation of tourists seeking wellness experiences.

This trend not only represents a new age of travel, but also a visible transition in day to day lifestyle habits and consumer demands. Wellness tourism is here to stay. The future looks bright, and brands would do well to get on board.

2) An estimated 17 million travellers identify themselves as being ‘health and wellbeing’ focused, with 40% of them travelling regularly

This is a considerable portion of the population. As more and more travellers shift their primary focus towards health and wellbeing, we’re likely to see more wellness-centric experiences entering the mainstream market.

Almost half of this audience is showing vigour and commitment to wellness tourism. An ‘generally middle aged, affluent’ (HVS) group, they’re putting wellness travel at the top of their to do lists and travelling regularly in search of new health experiences across the globe.

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3) Wellness tourists spend 130% more than the average tourist

Not surprisingly, the main demographic associated with wellness tourism is economically stable, time-rich and prepared to fork out more than the usual tourist for unique, reinvigorating travel. People perceive genuine value in this field of travel and, as a consequence are willing to pay more for its benefits.

This statistic from SRI International, which features in the GWTER, helps to define the mindset of the average wellness traveller and positions them as an enthusiastic, dedicated consumer base.

However, for those with less time on their hands, a promotional prize like this may prove to be an even more attractive prospect. Hard working professionals seeking to make the most of their time off are likely to see a wellness trip as the perfect answer and a fantastic chance to unwind.

4) Over half the global business population has experienced an appreciable rise in workplace stress in recent years (GWTER)

The impact of stress on our mental and physical health is a prominent 21st Century concern that needs confronting head on. As competition grows and markets become further convoluted, businesses demand high-work rate from their employees.

While progressive companies are beginning to put their staff first – e.g. offering up alternative, flexible ways of working – a lot of people are still left wanting when it comes to striking up a healthy work-life balance.

Not only is modern day professional stress a contributor to the demand for wellness tourism, brands and business owners alike can actively move towards a healthier ethos, by making health and well-being experiences readily available to those who need more than just a break.

5) Wellness tourism represents about 6% (524.4 million) of all domestic and international trips

Another key finding to come from the GWTER, this statistic does primarily illustrate the presence of wellness tourism across the travel industry. However, it also indicates that those seeking valuable health and wellbeing experiences may find what they’re looking for right on their doorstep.

Domestic wellness travel makes up a large percentage of the 524.4 million trips made by wellness tourists – meaning this kind of tourism doesn’t need to cost the earth and can be made convenient and easily accessible to pretty much everyone.

6) Non–spa-related healthy travel represents 59% of the wellness tourism industry (SRI International)

For many, the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about health and wellbeing experiences is a spa treatment. For a long time, this type of wellness travel dominated the industry. However, as demand has grown, so has the variety of experiences available to tourists.

Finding the right wellness activity, for the right person is a necessity. This poses a challenge for brands who are looking to align their promotion with an audience, but also presents an opportunity to drill down into a niche and deliver an experience that really appeals to the consumers it’s aimed at.

7) 71% of travel agents in North America and Europe say consumers are more aware of wellness travel

Wellness media, marketing and gifting company Spafinder Wellness 365, have noted a massive increase in awareness of wellness travel across North America and Europe. With nearly three-quarters of this demographic developing a knowledge of health and wellbeing travel, this is a key audience for brands and travel agents alike.

The top five wellness tourism countries – United States, Germany, Japan, France, Austria – account for over half of the market (63% of expenditures). It’s not coincidence that four out of the five are North American and European countries.

8) More than half of the projected growth in wellness tourism trips through 2017 will take place in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa

One final statistic, courtesy of SRI International, presents us with an even deeper insight into the geographic trends shaping wellness tourism.

We’ve already revealed that Europe and North America are dominant forces in the industry. However, huge growth is expected to come out of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa over the next year.

While this tells us that wellness tourism is becoming a far more global industry, it’s also incredibly important to note that many wellness treatments originate from these parts of the world (e.g. meditation and Yoga in India and Temazcal in Mexico). Travellers across the globe are seeking more authentic experiences and things are no different in the wellness world.

Explosive growth and new horizons

There’s no doubt about it, the wellness industry is booming and this trend looks set to continue as an increasing number of people grow weary of generic travel experiences. Global awareness of the benefits of wellness travel is on the up, and with a diverse audience comes new tailored experiences.

There is both a global and domestic market for wellness tourism, which hands brands, employers and travel agents the opportunity to offer up a wide range of experiences to consumers – from long haul luxury, to local retreats – there’s something for everyone.

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