As India's total wellness market to surpass $18 billion in the next four years, Luxury Wellness Tourism segment is estimated to grow nearly 50% faster than global tourism by 2017.
With the wellness industry evolving faster now than ever before, Paul Joseph, co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, the leading experts in tailor-made wellness holidays worldwide, shares his insight of developing a business in this booming sector. From moving with the latest trends, to exploring untapped markets, keeping up with this constantly evolving niche industry can feel like a wellness whirlwind.
How has the wellness tourism industry evolved in recent years?
With wellness tourism growing twice as fast as any other sector in the travel industry, there are no signs that it will slow down as everyone from ageing baby boomers to millennials focus on embracing a healthier lifestyle. Travelling for prevention and improving health is why wellness hotels have grown in recent years with a surge of people travelling abroad to stay healthy. The wellness travel industry and consumer expectations have evolved from pampered indulgence to personalised health and fitness.
Our bookings have doubled since last year, with our healthy holidays proving particularly popular amongst 30+ professionals, who lead busy lives as successful business people. They work hard but have little time to focus on their health and fitness, so seek a holiday to rejuvenate and get back in shape. A high proportion of our clients are single travellers and our wellness holidays are perfect for travelling on your own. Our clients see these types of holidays as a necessary part of their lives and an investment in their health and well-being. Like any machine used on a daily basis, our bodies need care and attention to ensure they stay in good working order, so these types of healthy holidays are perfect for a body MOT.
What are the latest wellness tourism trends?
No longer pampering without a purpose, leading wellness hotels are now helping individuals to focus on achieving personal wellness goals, whether making healthy lifestyle changes or addressing a specific health issue. Creating innovative healthy holiday programmes that address serious health issues, from weight management holidays to wellness programmes designed to support individuals recovering from cancer, expert medical, fitness and nutrition teams are taking wellness hotels to the next level.
Other rising trends within the wellness spa industry include turning back to nature, with resurgence in naturally sourced and produced ingredients, free from artificial chemicals. Often sourced from local organic produce, the rise of the natural beauty treatment is heightened by the experience of spa treatments in the outdoors, using natural products in their natural surroundings. Following this trend is a demand for less-invasive, non-surgical cosmetic treatments, which are kinder on our bodies.
Where are the untapped markets in wellness tourism?
With 4 million people recently taking a career break due to stress and burn out, more businesses are supporting employees to boost their workplace wellness with healthy spa sabbaticals and leisure trips. Resulting in a more productive and loyal team, the rise of leisure travel (mixing business with leisure) allows a better work-life balance as employees make the most of spa retreats offering business facilities. For those looking to completely disconnect on a healthy sabbatical, the rise of spa retreats offering tailored programmes of longer durations allows the time to re-set and learn a healthier lifestyle.
Fertility wellness is also a growing market, with more couples turning to wellness spa retreats in an effort to banish stress and increase their chances of conceiving naturally. Through personalised wellness programmes incorporating healthy nutrition, healing spa therapies and mindfulness practices, such as yoga and meditation, couples are encouraged to release stress and focus on the now.
Are there possibilities for smaller, boutique hotels to add value, health and well-being to a customer’s stay?
Whether a leading destination spa or a boutique spa hotel, all venues must look ahead of the trends to find a unique offering. They need to know what their clients’ interests are and introduce experiences that go the extra mile.
They can introduce or create a new exercise class, from surfboard yoga to underwater cycling, a new spa treatment, a different style of yoga or meditation but make it fun and challenging. They need to focus on their spa treatment menus and wellness programmes and develop unusual indigenous tropical treatments, allowing guests to experience the local cuisine. With food proven to be a source of healing, spas can work on bespoke healthy menus so they educate their clients. We are living longer lives and are conscious about prolonging our health – so there needs to be an emphasis on preventative ageing and how to increase our longevity.
How do you source the wellness hotels for your holidays?
We have very robust criteria which we carry out to ensure the hotels we source meet our client’s expectations. The spa hotels most run excellent wellness retreats and programmes that are accessible for all, from cancer patients to the disabled. A healthy holiday should offer an effective fitness, spa and exercise programme utilising the beach or mountains for the great outdoors from beach boot camps, to hiking and fabulous yoga schedules with a good Nutritionist and wellness team for support. Specialised programmes such as digestive health, sleep, anti-stress, detox, weight management and fitness should also be an option.
Wellness tourism is a $439 billion industry worldwide representing 14 per cent of all tourism spending within the $3.2 trillion global tourism industry. In fact, as per a recent study, India could be number one for growth globally in the wellness tourism sector in the next five years, clocking over 20 per cent gains annually through 2017.
This article is written by Paul Joseph, who is the Co-founder of Health and Fitness Travel, the leading experts in tailor-made healthy holidays worldwide. He searches for the rare and hidden gems around the world and puts together exclusive and trend-setting holidays for those who would like to improve or maintain their health and fitness whilst on holiday. As well as a love of all things travel, Paul’s other love is exercise, cycling and yoga. Paul also contributes to the travel pages of various high-profile newspapers and magazines where he offers his expert advice on wellness holidays.