Wellness tourism provides immense benefits to the traveler who decides to take a vacation devoted to the advancement of their health and wellbeing; generally, those who embrace wellness in their travels return feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and committed to a healthier lifestyle. Wellness tourism, as a sector of the travel industry, extends its reach far beyond personal benefits, however. It is also a major economic force.
According to the most recent statistics from the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness tourism industry is a $3.72 trillion industry. That represents a 10.6% increase from 2013-2015! What’s remarkable about the wellness tourism industry is its resilience despite periods of economic downturn. Even when global GDP fell 3.6% between 2013 and 2015, global wellness tourism experienced double-digit growth. Additionally, the global wellness tourism industry has grown at twice the rate of overall tourism.
These incredible statistics are nothing to take lightly. A few years ago, wellness tourism was not a term that was even in circulation. There was no sector within the travel industry devoted specifically to wellness. Now, the wellness industry represents 5.1% of global economic output.
So what does the increase in global wellness tourism mean and why does it matter? First, wellness tourism is inextricably linked to other markets, such as spas, hotels, nutrition and weight loss, beauty, public health, alternative medicine, real estate, and workplace wellness, for which had has contributed major economic gains. It benefits economies all over the world, creating 17.9 million jobs worldwide. The average wellness traveler spends 61% more per trip than the standard tourist, so every market wellness industry touches reaps the benefits.
Second, and most importantly, the massive economic success of wellness tourism indicates a shift in attitudes around the world, as more and more people begin to invest in their health and wellness. There is a concerted effort among people around the world to look prioritize wellness, as the GWI reports that wellness expenditures are nearly half as large as total global health expenditures- $3.72 trillion compared to $7.6 trillion in overall healthcare spending.
Katherine Johnston, a Senior Research Fellow for GWI notes the deeper changes the booming global wellness tourism economy is contributing to:
A profound shift in the way people consume wellness is underway: once a luxury or ‘add-on’, it’s now being infused into every aspect of daily life- from how people work to how they travel. And the spend on proactive healthy choices- on wellness- will continue to comprise a greater percentage of massive multi-trillion industries, whether real estate, food and beverage, or travel.
As the global wellness tourism industry continues on its upward path, people of all industries and backgrounds from all around the world have the opportunity to share the wealth, both physically and fiscally.