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Published on : Monday, November 25, 2013
The U.S. is the largest wellness tourism market today, generating $167.1 billion in combined international and domestic expenditures annually. According to the study, U.S. will see the largest growth in wellness trips, adding 46.1 million more trips by 2017.
Travel agents can’t afford to ignore wellness tourism. This profitable tourism segment already comprises a $439 billion global market, or 14% of international and domestic tourism expenditures.
Travelers who have adopted wellness strategies in their everyday lives at home want to stay healthy while on the road. As a result, more consumers are demanding that aspects of wellness be incorporated in leisure and business trips.
Susie Ellis, chair and CEO of GSWS and president of SpaFinder Wellness, said, “Many nations will make wellness mandatory in the future. There has been a renaissance in the use of natural hot springs in Japan, China, Eastern Europe and Turkey.”
Anything that makes one feel good or healthy is wellness. The World Health Organization’s broadest definition of “health” is “a state of complete physical, mental and social being.” As defined by the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, wellness travel encompasses everything from healthy offerings by hotels such as Hilton and Westin, which are introducing wellness rooms, to meditation and life coaching.
“This industry is at the intersection of wellness and technology,” Ellis said.
Ophelia Yeung, the study’s author and co-director of SRI’s Center for Science, Technology & Economic Development, said the research results reflect a major shift away from vacations associated with excess – too much eating and drinking and too little sleep – to vacations focused on health and wellness.
Yeung said, “People are now choosing destinations that help them stay or get healthy while traveling.”
Agents can translate the growing interest in wellness travel into sales opportunities. One suggestion offered by spa experts at the New York event was for agents to pursue groups for spa getaways, including celebrating milestone occasions, a tactic cruise agents have been using for years.
The easiest approach is for agents to take the initiative and suggest to clients that they add a wellness element to their vacation.
Stephanie Durst, a certified SpaFinder specialist with Protravel International, said her clients already are interested in health and wellness while traveling, so she books accommodations that satisfy that need.
The 2014 Global Spa & Wellness Summit will take place in Morocco.