On The Bucket List: Travel With A Healthy Twist

by Anne Dimon
On The Bucket List: Travel With A Healthy Twist


The global wellness industry is “one of the world’s fastest-growing, most resilient markets, clocking double-digit growth while the global economy shrank by 3.6%,” reports a new study released at last week’s Global Wellness Summit in Austria. And where there are consumers ready to buy, there are suppliers ready to sell.

The study, by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), found that Wellness Tourism saw a revenue growth rate of 14% between 2013 and 2015—and now accounts for 15.6% of total tourism revenues—“nearing one in six of total ‘tourist dollars’ spent.’ ” Wellness tourists spend 61% more than the average international tourist, and generates close to 18 million jobs worldwide.

Beth Mcgroarty, research director of the Global Wellness Institute, said spa-focused travel accounts for 41% of the market, with the rest coming from fitness activities, yoga and lifestyle retreats, thermal baths and hot springs, stays at healthy hotels and the purchase of healthy food.   

Mega-trends behind the growth
GWI senior research fellow Ophelia Yeung predicted that consumers, governments and employers will continue to spend big on wellness because of a series of megatrends: an emerging global middle class, a rapidly aging world population, a chronic disease and stress epidemic, the failure of the “sick-care” medical model, and the growth of more affluent and educated consumers seeking experiences rooted in meaning, purpose, authenticity and nature.  

All of the above bode well for the wellness tourism industry, as consumers who incorporate wellness into their daily lives increasingly look to include elements of that lifestyle in their business and leisure travels.  

Industry suppliers are responding to the demand with a stream of new wellness-themed products and services.

Here’s a sampling of some recent initiatives:

The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has outlined plans to establish a portfolio of its wellness-focused brand, EVEN Hotels, in Australia and New Zealand. And, closer to home, the 190-room EVEN Hotel Miami Airport is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2018.

On October 5 Swissôtel unveiled its first dedicated Swissôtel Vitality Room at the Swissôtel Zurich. An extension of the hotel brands’ well-established Vitality Programme, the new room format includes a Fitness Wall, energizing Vitality snacks and beverages, and lighting and scent options that soothe or revitalize in accordance with guest needs. The plan is to roll it out to other Swissotels properties around the world, said FRHI Hotels & Resorts spokesman Mike Taylor.

The Jamaica Tourist Board is sponsoring two fitness-themed trips this November. Spinning Escape Jamaica will take place at Couples Swept Away in Negril on November 4-6, and the Jamaica Fit Trip is scheduled for November 6-9 at Royalton White Sands in Montego Bay. Both events will bring fitness trainers and enthusiasts to Jamaica to enjoy the island’s beautiful beaches, culture, music, food and people—all while working up a sweat.  

The new Spa Social program, launched in October at the Agua Spa at the Mondrian London, invites friends and dating couples to socialize over glasses of Prosecco or herbal tea while enjoying the bathhouse and spa facilities. The program is only offered during specific hours on select dates of each month.

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