New research continues to support the growth of wellness tourism, and underscores the need for travel brands and agents to take note.
The Global Wellness Institute’s (GWI) recently released 2016 Global Wellness Economy Monitor confirms that the worldwide wellness industry grew an impressive 10.6%, to $3.72 trillion, from 2013-2015, making it, according to GWI, “one of the world’s fastest-growing, most resilient markets.”
While Europe is identified as the geographic region with the largest number of wellness trips, North America leads in wellness tourism expenditures. GWI called this continent the “wellness travel powerhouse,” ranking first among nations for revenues generated in four of the five markets researched: Wellness Tourism, The Spa Industry, Workplace Wellness and Wellness Real Estate. (In the fifth market researched—Thermal/Mineral Springs—North America ranks 18th globally.)
The second-largest global market in terms of wellness tourism spending was Germany, followed by France, China, Japan, Austria and Canada.
The report points out that the bulk of consumers fuelling the industry are domestic tourists, driven by short-haul and weekend trips, but notes that “international wellness tourism has been growing at a much faster rate than domestic wellness tourism.”
GWI Chairman and CEO Susie Ellis forecasts five wellness trends that will “sharpen” in North America in the coming years:
1. A surge in mental wellness programs at hotels, wellness resorts, spas, fitness studios, workplaces and schools.
One example for agents looking to find a wellness retreat for mentally-stressed clients: this writer met up with Ziva Meditation at the recent New York Time Travel Show and learned that the New York City–based company, launched in 2016, offers quality retreats that focus on meditation for relaxation and mental wellness.
2. Wellness beyond the “wellthy.”
“We’ll see a wave of wellness products/services at lower price-points,” says Ellis, including the launch of mid-priced wellness-focused hotels (such as EVEN) and more budget spa brands, such as the newly-launched The Now in Los Angeles.
3. The sound of silence.
Silence is golden this year, and new “silent spas,” “wellness monasteries” in sacred spaces and hotels/resorts with designated quiet room and entire floors are sprouting. Le Monastère des Augustine, a hotel and wellness-retreat in Quebec City, for example, offers a daily Silent Breakfast, while the Art of Living Retreat Center in North Carolina can customize multi-day silent retreats for groups.
4. Wellness IS home and wellness AT home.
According to the report, trend-watchers forecast a growing interest among consumers in turning their homes into “wellness sanctuaries.” Wellness makeovers include such upgrades as circadian lighting, and Ellis says, a new “wellness architecture” will rise to tackle things like indoor air pollution. More Americans will look for homes certified around dozens of “healthy-for-humans” features.
5. U.S. wellness markets will grow in years ahead.
With U.S. healthcare costs forecast to rise an average of 5.8% every year through 2025, more Americans will turn to alternative, preventative health approaches.
For the travel industry, the take-away here is that when it comes to healthcare, more pro-active consumers will certainly look to add wellness components to their travel, as well as plan wellness retreats specifically aimed at discovering and trying out new alternative and preventative approaches. And conversely, as they add wellness features to their homes, they will seek them out when they travel as well.
Anne Dimon is Travel Market Report’s wellness travel columnist and the founder/editor of www.traveltowellness.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnneDimon.