According to a World Tourism Organization report, outbound Asia-Pacific travellers now represent 37 per cent of the world’s total, with international travel spending doubling in the last decade. Asia-Pacific is also the fastest-growing wellness tourism market: wellness trips jumped 33 per cent in the last two years, and the market will essentially double from 2017–2022: from US$137bn to US$252bn.
To understand this fast-growing market, Asia brand consultancy CatchOn has released a report – Asia: The Future of Global Wellness Tourism. It conducted more than 50 interviews with travellers, luxury tour operators, spa consultants, travel journalists, wellness destination resorts and hospitality brands to arrive at three main consumer archetypes driving growth.
Women – travelling with other women or alone – are a force unto themselves, and will become the most important market segment driving the wellness tourism boom worldwide. Women-only vacations have soared in popularity in the last decade, with some tour companies reporting over 200 per cent growth in the last few years alone, and wellness activities are at the heart of the experience. More women are also putting solo trips on their bucket list – solo, but in the company of others.
Affluent new agers
The fastest growth in wealth creation is in Asia, and Hong Kong has now overtaken New York to become the world’s largest ultra-high net worth city. With the combined factors of longer life expectancy and having the means to pursue wellness at a younger age, Asians who are approaching mid-life are recontextualising ageing as aspirational. They’re not postponing living well until after retirement, but are embracing a life-well-lived mindset in their 40s, because they can afford it. They are willing to spend on travel and wellness, with the goal of indulging in bucket-list activities while they can.
Chinese millennial millionaires
As the middle class grows and incomes rise, producing more millionaires and billionaires at an exponential rate, so too does their appetite for travel and wellness experiences. The growing importance of health in the lives of Chinese millennials is reflected in wellness tourism, with a strong focus on mental health, as well as intellectual and social wellness. For Chinese millennials, wellness travel often means stepping out of a comfort zone and pushing boundaries, and is perceived as a life-enriching experience. This means holidays in which they can explore new cultures, engage in adventure sports, immerse themselves in the wonders of wildlife, and sign up for a healthy cooking class or mindful living workshop.