Wellness tourism around the world grew nearly 7% annually between 2015 and 2017 to US$639 billion and is forecast to reach US$919 billion by 2022. (Shutterstock/My Good Images)
Wellness tourism around the world grew nearly 7% annually between 2015 and 2017 to US$639 billion – more than twice as fast as tourism overall – and is forecast to reach US$919 billion by 2022.
And while Europe may be the most popular destination for wellness travel, at an estimated 292 million trips in 2017, it’s North America that rakes in the big bucks, earning the most in tourism revenue.
Those are among some of the big takeaways from a report released by the Global Wellness Institute and presented at the World Travel Market London, a major trade fair that took place recently.
In the report, wellness tourism is defined as travel for the purpose of maintaining or improving health – not to be conflated with medical tourism, which involves travel to seek a specific medical treatment.
Overall, in 2017 world travellers made 830 million wellness trips – 139 million more than in 2015.
But while Europe and North America may lead the wellness tourism market now, analysts point out that wellness trips in Asia-Pacific have grown 33% in the last two years, making it the fastest growing market.
Between 2017 and 2022, wellness tourism is also projected to grow 13% in Asia-Pacific to reach US$252 billion in revenue.
Meanwhile, within the region, China and India are the strongest performers, having added roughly 22 million and 17 million wellness trips respectively from 2015 to 2017.
“Wellness tourism burst into the consumer consciousness just a very few years ago, and it’s hard to grasp the speed of its growth and evolution,” authors note in the report.
“Wellness, hospitality and travel are now converging in unprecedented ways, from the ‘healthy hotel’ concept going utterly mainstream to airports, airlines and cruises injecting so much wellness programming, to the profusion of ever-more-creative wellness destinations, retreats and tours.”
The report also showed that wellness travellers are well-educated, open-minded globetrotters with money to burn, spending on average US$1,528 per trip or 53% more than the typical international tourist.
That’s even higher for domestic wellness tourists, who spend 178% more than the average domestic traveller, at US$609 per trip.
Here are the destinations that made the most money from wellness tourism in 2017:
1. United States