Wellness Tourism Now a $639 Billion Industry

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This week, the Miami-based Global Wellness Institute released a new Global Wellness Tourism Economy report at the World Travel Market in London. Key findings in the 100-page report include:

• Wellness tourism around the globe grew from a $563 billion (all figures in U.S. dollars) market in 2015 to $639 billion in 2017, a rate of 6.5 percent annually, more than twice as fast as tourism overall (a 3.2 percent annual growth). The sector is forecast to grow even faster through 2022 (by 7.5 percent yearly), to reach $919 billion.
 
• North America tops the list in wellness-tourism revenues ($242 billion yearly), while Europe welcomes the most wellness trips (292 million). But the Asia Pacific region is the eye-opening growth leader, with wellness trips to the area growing by a whopping 33 percent in the last two years.
 
• China and India rank No. 1 and 2 for growth, adding roughly 22 million and 17 million wellness trips, respectively, from 2015 to 2017.
 
• Wellness tourism is heavily concentrated in several countries across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. The United States, Germany, China, France and Japan represent 59 percent of the global market, and the U.S. alone drives more than one-third of revenues.
 
• Wellness travelers are very high-spending, high-yield tourists. In 2017, international wellness tourists spent an average of $1,528 per trip, or 53 percent more than the typical international tourist. The premium for domestic wellness tourists was even higher, spending an additional $609 per trip, or 178 percent more than the average domestic tourist.
 
"Wellness tourism burst into the consumer consciousness just a few years ago, and it's hard to grasp the speed of its growth and evolution," noted Katherine Johnston and Ophelia Yeung, senior researchers for GWI, of the report's findings. "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 wellness concept is transforming almost every aspect of travel," the researchers added, "and wellness tourism will only grow faster in years ahead, as it lies at the powerful intersection of two massive, booming industries: the $2.6 trillion tourism industry and the $4.2 trillion wellness market."
 
This year's report also broke down wellness-tourism expenditures by region and compared the 2017 findings with those from 2015. According to the new study, world travelers made 830 million wellness trips in 2017, 139 million more than in 2015 -- representing 17 percent of all tourism revenues (or 1 in 6 dollars spent). The developing markets that led the growth are Asia Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean, Middle East-North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. The four regions represented just 40 percent of wellness trips in 2017, but accounted for 57 percent of the increase in trips since 2015. The report notes that these regions are poised to account for more than half of future expenditure growth (and three-quarters of wellness-trips growth) through 2022.
 
For a free copy of the report, click here.