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Published on : Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Much before the Beatles went on their famous pilgrimage to Rishikesh with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1969, India has been a popular travel destination for Americans seeking serenity and spiritual growth. But in recent years, wellness travel to India has exploded.
Mia Farrow, Steve Jobs, and Oprah are just a few of the many Western celebrities who have flocked to the Indian shores for life-changing trips, to visit meditation retreats and spiritual sites.
Now, this southeast Asian country is the fastest-growing wellness travel destination, with a projected 22 per cent annual growth rate. In comparison, the United States — the leading country for wellness travel — has an average annual growth rate of 5.8 per cent.
Wellness travel — any tourism associated with the goal of maintaining or enhancing one’s
personal well-being — is now a $439 billion industry worldwide within the $3.2 trillion global tourism industry, representing 14 per cent of all tourism spending. It’s estimated to have a trillion dollars worth of economic impact.
“As more people embrace overall healthier lifestyles at home, we are now seeing those behaviors translate and be integrated into their travel and vacation habits,” Susie Ellis, Chairman and CEO of the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, said in a statement. “For others, vacation provides an escape from the non-stop activities of their daily lives. As these two trends converge, we are seeing many people commit their vacation time and dollars to wellness travel, as evidenced by their increased spending and specific global destination choices.”
Ellis explains that the recent mindfulness boom may be playing a part in attracting more visitors to India.
“India’s wellness offerings are very understandable — they have yoga, meditation and ayurveda,” Ellis tells the Huffington Post. “Right now, those are things that are really resonating with people… the kind of things that people want and need are the things that India is offering.”
Since the 2002 “Incredible India” tourism ad campaign, travel to the country has been on a fairly steady rise. The campaign sought to bring higher-yield tourists to India — the country had long been attracting hikers and travelers staying at low-cost ashrams, but the tourism board knew that if they attracted wealthier tourists, the rest would follow.