Wellness tourism is defined as “travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal well-being”. Wellness travel is about prioritizing one’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. The market is expected to outpace the overall global tourism industry and grow at a CAGR of 7.5% through 2022. The global wellness tourism market was valued at $641.29 billion in 2019. We have provided below a detailed overview of the various statistics related to wellness tourism highlighting its growing popularity and various emerging trends.
Industry Growing Consistently and Outpacing overall Tourism
- According to the latest data from the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the wellness tourism market has grown from $563 billion in 2015 to $639 billion in 2017 or 6.5% annually. This is more than double the 3.2% growth rate for the tourism industry overall. Further, GWI predicts the market to reach $919.4 billion by 2022, representing 18% of all global tourism.
- Wellness-focused travel is estimated to grow at an average annual rate of 7.5% through 2022. This is higher than the projected 6.4% CAGR for overall global tourism.
- As per Technavio, the YoY growth rate of the global wellness tourism market for 2020 is estimated to be 6.43%. Also, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% over the 2020-2024 period. Further, 33% of the industry growth is likely to originate from North America.
Wellness Travel Trips On the Rise
- In 2017, travelers took 830 million wellness trips, which was 139 million more than in 2015. The institute estimates over a billion individual wellness trips to take place around the globe by 2022. The bulk of wellness travelers tend to be higher-educated women between ages 30 and 60.
- As per data from Entrepreneur, travelers around the globe take around 586 million wellness trips each year. As a matter of fact, the wellness tourism niche comprises 15% of global travel, which is the second-highest after cultural tourism. Additionally, wellness travelers spend 130% more than the average traveler.
- According to data by the Travel Association, people are increasingly incorporating wellness into their holiday, with almost 34% of people “planning to take part in activities focused on improving their well-being such as yoga, meditation, spa, and holistic treatments or taking time away from tech.”
- The total number of wellness-focused travel trips are up 20% globally since 2015, with most wellness holidays being taken in Europe and destinations such as Germany, France, Austria, and Greece. These countries are increasingly investing in their wellness tourism. Nearly two million UK holidaymakers are planning to take a wellness trip in 2021.
- As per GlobalData’s Q3 2019 global consumer survey, 15% of respondents indicated that they take wellness holidays every year. This is an increase of 2% from 2018, corroborating the increasing demand for health and wellness tourism.
- Similarly, a survey by Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) indicated that nearly 60% of the respondents have never taken a wellness vacation but hoped to take one shortly and wanted more information.
Length of the Stay in Wellness Tourism is becoming Flexible
- The length of the stay during wellness-focused vacations is becoming flexible, and hotels and resorts are witnessing demand for a wider range of duration for retreats and programs.
- According to the owner of the New Life Hiking Spa in Killington, Vermont, the number of guests that have stayed longer than two weeks has increased by 90% over the past 3 years. This trend of longer stays prompted the center to add the 21-night wellness retreat to their menu in 2017.
- As per Hilton’s management, while “annual visits have been popular for years, guests are now planning out shorter, more frequent trips (two to four times per year) to stay on track, while others are dedicating resources to commit to an 8- to 12-week stay to make a significant and efficient impact on their health.”
Wellness Vacation Travelers Spend More
- In 2017, international wellness tourists spent an average of $1,528 per trip, or “53% more than the typical international tourist. The premium for domestic wellness tourists was even higher, spending an additional $609 per trip, or 178% more than the average domestic tourist.”
- The primary reason behind the increased spend on wellness travel is that wellness travelers are typically more affluent, educated, and well-traveled, and they tend to be early adopters who will try out new and novel experiences.
Most Popular Wellness Activities During Travel
- As per survey data from the Travel Association, the most popular wellness activities during wellness-focused vacations include yoga, pilates, and nature hikes, with over 67% of travelers planning to engage in these activities during their vacation and nearly 14% planning to spend over four hours a day on these activities during their vacation.
- Other popular wellness activities during vacations include spa treatments (42%) and meditation/silent time (39%). Also, nearly 14% of travelers prefer to engage in holistic therapies such as Reiki and chakra balancing.
- According to Sri International, interest in non-spa-related travel is on an increasing trend. Non-spa-related health travel now represents around 59% of the wellness tourism industry.
- The primary reason for which travelers engage in these wellness activities during their vacation travel is to relax and unwind (60%). Also, among all travelers, young holidaymakers are most likely to prioritize mental well-being (46% vs 35% average).
Wellness Travelers Focus on Avoiding Tech Gadgets
- As per the data from the Travel Association, wellness-focused travelers tend to focus on spending time away from technology such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. They intend to spend almost four and a half hours each day (269 minutes) on average, doing a combination of wellness activities.
- Nearly 24% of the wellness-focused travelers spend more than four hours a day (240 minutes or more), and most travelers spend nearly two hours a day (108 minutes) on average, making a conscious effort to keep away from their gadgets.
Secondary vs Primary Wellness Travelers
- Primary wellness travelers are those whose trip or destination choice is primarily motivated by wellness, while secondary wellness travelers are the ones who seek to maintain wellness while traveling or who participate in wellness experiences while taking any type of trip for leisure or business.
- The bulk of the wellness tourism market is constituted by secondary wellness travelers. In 2017, it accounted for 89% of wellness tourism trips and 86% of wellness tourism expenditures.
- In 2017, secondary wellness travelers made 739 million trips as compared to only 91 million trips by primary wellness travelers and spent nearly $551 billion on travel as compared to $88 billion by primary travelers.
- Secondary wellness tourism also continues to grow at a faster rate than primary wellness tourism. This is corroborated by the fact that secondary wellness tourism trips grew by 10% annually, while primary trips grew by 8% annually from 2015-2017.
Wellness Travel By Region
- As per Globaldata, the health and wellness tourism trips to Asia are estimated to reach 128.3 million by 2022, which will help the continent become the world’s fastest-growing tourism market.
- The health and wellness trips to the Asia-Pacific region also increased by 33% between 2017 and 2019 to reach 109.4 million, making it one of the fastest-growing wellness tourism market. Thailand is a key destination within Asia for health and wellness tourism.
- As per GlobalData forecasts, health and wellness tourism trips to Thailand are likely to increase to 27.7 million by 2022, representing a CAGR of 5.6% from 2019. The health and wellness expenditure in the country is set to reach $2.5 billion by 2022, representing a CAGR of 9% over the 2019-2022 period.
- Wellness tourism is heavily concentrated in several countries across North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. The United States, Germany, China, France, and Japan represent 59% of the global market, with the US alone driving more than one-third of the industry revenues. The US was the most popular health and wellness tourism destination in 2019, with 47.5 million tourists.
- Overall, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa are emerging as key markets for wellness travel, accounting for 57% of the increase in wellness trips since 2015.