The Rise of Global Wellness Tourism
- Posted by Todd A. Vines
- On September 19, 2019
Travel as strictly “business” or “pleasure” is an increasingly antiquated notion.
As our culture’s self-care journey evolves, a third inspiration for travel has emerged; wellness.
Travelers took more than 830 million wellness trips in 2017, according to the Global Wellness Institute. In fact, the $639 billion wellness travel market’s annual growth rate of 6.5% (2015-2017) is more than double the 3.2% growth rate for tourism overall.
Here’s a closer look at the burgeoning wellness tourism market and its impact on the travel industry.
Wellness is Hooking Wealthy Travelers
In recent years, some affluent audiences have shifted the way they define “leisure.” Well-heeled travelers are increasingly eschewing buffet lines and late-night clubbing in favor of resorts that focus on health and self-care, shelling out as much as $1,400 a night to stay at resorts with on-site therapists, according to a recent article from Business Insider.
Health summits, in particular, are becoming a more frequent piece of group business for hotels, with attendees willing to hand over upwards of $5,000 to participate in a weekend wellness summit.
Some such events are hosted by celebrities who have their own wellness-based brands. Gwyneth Paltrow, for example, hosted her first wellness summit in Lost Angeles in 2017, and has since expanded to multiple cities.
Digital Detox Retreats Emerge
In a true “sign of the times,” retreats that encourage a break from all things digital are growing in popularity.
Golden Door in San Marcos, California, offers opportunity for such a sojourn. Here one can enjoy a diverse array of fitness classes, daily massage and facials, hikes and meditation sessions. It’s a world of wellness, leaving little time for distractions from your phone.
Don’t trust yourself to stay off the internet? Head to Fiji, or more specifically Turtle Island. Since the only Wi-Fi on this private island is in the guest shop, guests are more inclined to enjoy horseback riding, kayaking, sunset cruises and actual surfing than surfing the internet.
Wellness Taking Flight at the Airport
It’s not just the hospitality industry that’s getting in on wellness. Airports are increasingly becoming hubs for travelers who value healthy travel.
The Steigenberger Airport Hotel Frankfurt, for example, has a day spa that can be accessed for the price of a day pass and a free shuttle ride. This spa comes with services such as facials, massages, and experiences with an on-site personal trainer.
Got a layover at Baltimore-Washington International? Hit ROAM Fitness gym. This 1,175-square-foot gym at BWI will loan you Lululemon workout clothes and Brooks running shoes, and a day pass is just $25. Other airports that offer gym access and general wellness facilities include San Francisco International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, and the Los Angeles International Airport.
Retreats for Those with an Active Life
An active lifestyle is no longer just about sweating it out at the gym. Travelers can now go on retreats for the purpose of enjoying a variety of activities that will promote better health.
The Ranch in Malibu is one of the most popular fitness retreats in the nation, where guests get into long hikes, strength training, yoga, and an organic, plant-based meal program.
Similar retreats elsewhere offer cross-country biking, mindful running sessions, consultations with doctors, and personalized exercise programs that you can use upon returning home.
Baby Boomers and Millennials Attracted to Wellness Tourism
According to Forbes, Baby Boomers seek out meaningful travel experiences that allow them to reduce stress and enjoy a slower pace of life that wouldn’t always be possible during the daily grind. Nearly half of all Baby Boomers are enjoying retirement, and since the bulk of the generation is living longer and healthier lives, this is driving an interest in traveling for wellness.
As for Millennials, they continue to be attracted to popular fitness instructors and digest tips on health and wellness tourism from social media influencers. Millennial wellness tourists also expect more from their travel experiences. This includes guided meditation, clean eating menus, unique nature retreats, and personalization.
As travelers place greater and greater value on healthy eats, fitness, and balance between body and mind, the wellness tourism industry will only continue to grow.
The question for hoteliers becomes whether or not their property is positioned to court such groups, services such travelers, and claim their share of this emerging market.
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