The $639 billion* wellness tourism market grew by 10% in 2018, according to the Global Wellness Institute. The specialist medical segment is growing even more rapidly, as travellers seek more affordable medical treatment or shorter waitlists overseas. Forecasts vary but suggest that this is rising at around 20% annually and is currently worth $45 -$72bn.
Our relatively pristine natural environment and indigenous flora with healing properties provide a competitive advantage for Australia as a wellness tourism destination.
“There are so many new combinations of travel destinations that focus on ‘healthy’ experiences, with appeal to both men and women at increasingly affordable price-points,” says Susie Ellis, CEO of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) on the growth in wellness tourism.
Airlines and hotels are getting in on the act. British Airways has a ‘Mindfulness of Travel’ programme” aimed at creating a calm trans-Atlantic long haul flight experience with meditative videos. Etihad, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic are among airlines with spa services in their lounges. Hyatt Hotels recently acquired wellness resort and spa group Miraval, while InterContinental Hotels Group has its EVEN Hotels brand.
The US, says the GWI, is the largest national wellness tourism market by far (with an annual $200bn-plus when last counted), followed by Germany (with $60bn). But China has been making huge gains, the last figures showing an annual jump from $12bn to $30bn. Globally, most trips are domestic (83%) but international/inbound wellness travel has been growing at a much faster rate. The last figures from the GWI showed growth of 22% in trips and 20% in revenues for international, compared to 17% and 11% for domestic.
Source: Global Wellness Institute