There was a time when going on holiday meant splashing out and indulging in ways reserved for rewarding ourselves for working so hard. We skip our gym sessions, eat more than we normally would and generally languish in decadence wherever possible. But times are changing. It appears our lives are so overwhelmed with work and responsibility that we now long for the complete opposite; spoiling ourselves with balance and well-being.
A recent study by SRI International in conjunction with the Global Spa & Wellness Summit believes that travellers seek to rejuvenate and recharge their regular lives more frequently than ever before and the business of wellness tourism is on a dramatic rise. We’re swapping our shopping that requires the purchase of an extra suitcase for wellness, which the study defines as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.
Some may well say that they achieve a state of ‘wellness’ by continuing to indulge in skipping gym, extra cocktails after dinner and I’m sorry, but the buzz from a solid holiday shopping spree still incites a sense of well-being in this writer. However the study says that fewer of us are approaching holidays in this manner and wellness tourism is said to be booming and will continue to grow 9.9 per cent annually over the next five years which, by the way, is 50 per cent faster than overall global tourism rates.
You could say that Spa tourism has grown an extra leg to include wellness which goes beyond relaxation, facials and massages to include a complete overhaul of your approach to healthy living. You could even add a third leg to this equation (if there was such a thing) and include medical tourism as well, which might incorporate minor plastic surgery holidays such as botox top ups and gentle lifts, to dental overhauls and body reshaping.
We as travellers, are evolving into creatures who not only seek out the broadening of the mind through the exploration of new cultures, food and experiences, but demand that holidays now also help us to ascend to whole other levels, through personal growth, healthy minds and bodies. How many of us actually maintain what we learn on what’s becoming more of a spiritual journey than a traditional holiday, remains to be seen. But one can only assume that with industry figures multiplying as quickly as they are, that we’re either doing it more often and encouraging others to join in.
The report says that international wellness travellers spend around 65 per cent more than regular travellers, with top source countries currently Europe and North America, with growth expected to be drive by Countries In Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. There are overlaps too with other niche tourism segments such as cultural tourism, eco-tourism, culinary and sports tourism, which makes sense. The point here is that while we believed that cultural tourism was the biggest trend (which it currently is as the largest of segments at $800 billion-$1.1 trillion), wellness tourism comes in second amongst all others. Spa tourism is still popular and makes up about 41 per cent of expenditure in the wellness segment, and is a factor to its growth overall.
The big difference between medical and wellness tourism is that mostly people take the former who already have an illness or issue to address, while wellness is generally undertaken by healthy people, who desire to live a more healthier existence. But medical tourism itself is also growing in different forms with Bali as an example, opening a hospital in Nusa Dua among the five star resorts, who provide dialysis machines which is extremely helpful for those who are restricted from taking holidays owing to kidney problems.
If there’s one thing that’s clear, the landscape of the traveller is changing rapidly and along with it, the businesses growing out of it to meet it’s evolutionary needs and desires. Who knows where the travel business will go in the future. Oh wait, yes that’s right, into space. Right Mr Branson?
Feature image Paradis Plage, Surf Yoga & Spa Resort, Morocco