Fitness, medical wellness propositions and spiritual practices and treatments based on local, natural resources are areas with the highest growth potential within wellness tourism.
The findings come from a pioneering study by Health Tourism Worldwide (HTW), which looks to identify the main global and regional trends in wellness-motivated travel through 2025 to 2030.
Called Wellness Travel 2030, Post-COVID19
, the study is a joint initiative between the HTW and the Wellness Tourism Association and is based on a survey of wellness industry experts and academics, who were asked to predict the future of wellness tourism.
Respondents were invited to share their experiences about the role of wellness in travel decisions, preferred sites and destinations, as well as services and treatments
Among the key findings were that:
• Spiritual practices and treatments based on local, natural resources represent the highest growth potential.
• Sport and fitness, as well as medical wellness propositions, also show potential through to 2030.
• Wellness has several facets and the industry should be open to new products and ideas, e.g. spirituality/wellness oriented festivals.
• Resort spas, lifestyle-oriented resorts and eco spas and wellness centers can represent great growth potential, whereas workplace wellness trips should not expect significant development.
• Alternative therapies and New Age approaches are unlikely to represent significant opportunities.
The report states: "The results suggest that market data and academic research about wellness travel may identify some information gaps in the market.
"It seems that Europe still holds onto its leading position in generating as well as hosting wellness-focused trips. We can also see that many other regions of the world have not yet explored their options and opportunities in wellness tourism.
"Operators and developers are highly interested in knowing more about what triggers wellness travel. Our study shows that the market has proliferated and a whole mix of triggers need to be explored by every stakeholder. This is an especially important task for new developments."
The report also includes advice to operators.
"Destinations need to do more about introducing their wellness offers, since respondents state that they do not know much about many regions in terms of wellness assets and offers," it states.
"Focusing on treatment menus and service lists may not be the most effective way to achieve market advantage, especially when targeting international markets.
"Story definition and storytelling seem to have growing importance according to industry members."
When it comes to the types of spas with the most growth potential, the report identifies the holistic offer of resort spas as the top performer.
"The role of lifestyle-oriented resorts and spas has been showing constant growth ever since 2012," according to the report.
"The importance of an eco-orientation in spas and resorts appears to be equally important.
"Medical treatments and services are usually indirectly related to wellness, however, the respondents suggest that the merging of wellness and medical treatments seems to be evident.
"The lowest growth potential is associated with cruise ship spas, hotel spas, day spas and thalasso centres."
Commenting on the findings, Anne Dimon, president and CEO of the Wellness Tourism Association, said: "As both industry and academic respondents agree – the future of wellness tourism is bright.
“Over the last year, so many more people have come to realize the true value of good health, and it is these same people who will fuel the demand for everything that the industry embraces.”
• To access and read the full report, click here.