If you are on wellnessworld.blog, then chances are you have more than a passing interest in wellbeing. Therefore, wellness getaways may be for you. This emerging market segment in the travel industry comes in myriad shapes and sizes, yet they all have a few things in common: exercise, wholesome nutrition, relaxation time, and increasingly, non-invasive aesthetics or preventive health screening services. Global glitterati like Gwyneth Paltrow and Richard Gere love them and now so do ordinary holidaymakers.
Wellness tourism is already a 439-billion-dollar market – or more than one in seven of all tourist dollars – and is set to grow to 678.5 billion in three years. It is directly responsible for 11.7 million global jobs, which deliver 1.3 trillion dollars in global economic impact. It is projected to grow by 9.1% annually through 2017, a growth rate that is nearly 50% higher than that of overall global tourism.
Be it hiking, biking or yoga, different variations abound in resorts across continents. If you are vegetarian, gluten-free, a raw foodist, or seek to lose weight, now it’s possible. If you need to de-stress, that’s possible too. Whether in an all-inclusive wellbeing resort or on a group wellness getaway, offerings vary.
Research indicates that Europe and North America dominate this market for now. However, over 50 percent of the projected growth in wellness tourism through North Africa. We are seeing how popular wellness holidays are for luxury outbound travellers from the Middle East – Charles Neil, Director at GVPMedia
Jacqueline Campbell, founder of The Travel Collection based in Dubai which covers Ananda in the Himalayas (India), Karkloof Safari Spa (South Africa), Palace Merano (Italy), and Chiva-Som (Thailand), has told New You + ME that from the reservations that they are receiving for their wellness resorts in Europe and Asia by GCC citizens, they saw an increase of over 15% in 2016 against 2015, with 2017 showing promising signs already.
Conventional medicine is beginning to embrace preventive and alternative approaches to care.
The overlap between wellness tourism and medical tourism occurs around activities toward the middle of the health continuum, such as thalassotherapy, thermal baths, health resorts, sanatoria, medical spas, DNA testing and executive check-ups – activities that can be both preventive and curative.
Who are the ‘wellness tourists’ and what are they looking for?
Today, it’s mostly middle-aged (above 39 years old), affluent, educated and from Western and/or industrialised countries. In future, countries and consumers in Asia, Middle East and Latin America will drive wellness tourism growth.
Different from medical tourism; wellness tourism is an exciting new travel category that exists at the powerful intersection of two of the world’s largest markets – the US$2-trillion wellness economy and the US$3.2- trillion global tourism industry.
Above all they want a holiday with the main drivers – according to the Travel Collection – being weight loss followed by detox and anti-ageing. The first two are key and anti ageing is often included as a treatment rather than the main driver. They also want to look fabulous and feel relaxed at the end of their holiday.
What a wonderful feeling it would be to go to bed at night knowing you have really contributed to the new wave of health consciousness that is starting to sweep the globe. Wellness tourists fall into three main categories, the health conscious who want to further improve their health on holiday and learn more on how to maintain it, the unfit or chronically ill person who wants to kick-start a change in lifestyle, and stressed out executives who want a complete break through a relaxing but physically challenging holiday. – Charles Neil
Challenge For The Tourism Industry
The main providers of the conventional tourism industry are typically hotels, cruise ships and spa resorts. While these enjoy a growing market, they are becoming commoditised in their offerings with each desperately trying to segment and differentiate in order to increase yields. The pot at the end of the rainbow is the wellness tourist and the question is what do conventional tourist providers need to ensure to capture this growing band of discerning wellness tourists.
Ideal Travel Companion
If late nights, dancing on table tops with copious food and tipple is your standard holiday routine then a wellness trip will be a shock to your system. Most wellness travellers are women, happy to travel solo or with a friend who prefers a good night’s sleep or a colonic, to crazy fun times.
Some resorts ban cell phones in public areas and often there are no TVs in the rooms. Guests will be most likely reading a book, or undergoing a holistic healing session during a wellness break rather than seeing them glued to their laptop screens. The wellness tourist often seeks an integrated programme starting with a medical and fitness assessment focusing on key bio – indicators, a controlled nutritional plan tailor-made to the findings of the medical assessment and a personal training programme designed around his/her fitness levels and goals for the week. – Charles Neil
This type of guest also probably seeks aesthetic treatments to match his/her looks with their biological as opposed to chronological age as well as relaxing spa treatments to ease away stiff muscles and holistic therapies of every ilk. In the evenings, they may wish to be entertained by holistic and lifestyle coaches, nutritionists and chefs demonstrating healthy ways to eat. For some of the more hard-core resorts, the proverbial ‘icing on the cake’ – not that they will be allowed to have any – is a long-distance continuation programme where the guest and the physician can monitor progress well after they have returned home, which in terms of retention of repeat guests is very compelling and interesting. For hoteliers, to be able to adapt to these new demands is not a piece of cake. It requires a paradigm shift in the way of thinking and different skill sets to inspire the guests to reach the goals they have set out to achieve. However, the attraction for the industry is undeniable. After all, what a wonderful feeling it would be to go to bed at night knowing you have really contributed to the new wave of health consciousness that is starting to sweep the globe.
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