2022 stats for wellness tourism show that the industry is making an excellent recovery, and predictions for 2023 are even more positive:
- $4,75 trillion: The value of the global wellness market in 2022
- The wellness tourism market will grow by 20.9% between 2020-2025
- Current value of the UK wellness market is £23 billion
- $817 billion: The market share of wellness tourism in 2022
- The beauty and personal care sector is worth $955 billion
- 18% annual growth expected in spas and health retreats from 2022-2025
- Revenue from spas and health retreats in 2025 is set to exceed $151 billion
- Growth of gyms, classes, and studios to jump to $1.2 trillion by 2025
- The mental wellness sub-sector will be worth $210 billion by 2025
Back in January 2021, wellness industry observers and analysts were forecasting a significant rebound in wellness tourism as the world emerges from the shadow of Covid-19. Now, it seems they were right on track.
Let’s take a look at what the analysts are forecasting and what the ever-growing numbers are telling us.
Devastated Tourism Economies
The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) estimated there was a fall from $720,4 billion to $457,7 billion between 2019 and 2020. This is a massive drop of 39,5%.
As we approach the end of 2022, the rebound is estimated to grow annually by a healthy 20,9% from 2020-2025, according to GWI’s research. In fact, GWI has revised their forecast upwards in late 2022 to $817 billion, reaching a level of $1,3 trillion in 2025.
The rollout of vaccines, the uptick in travelling again and citizens seeking wellness and healing all contribute to the global resurgence of the wellness tourism industry.
Snapshot Of Wellness Tourism’s Sub-Sectors
Currently, the wellness tourism industry is roughly divided into around 11 sub-sectors. These include:
- Personal Care & Beauty
- Healthy Eating, Nutrition, & Weight Loss
- Physical Activity
- Wellness Tourism
- Traditional & Complementary Medicine
- Public Health, Prevention, & Personalised Medicine
- Wellness Real Estate
- Mental Wellness
- Workplace Wellness
Let’s unpack the forecasts for some of the bigger sub-sectors in the next few years.
Overall Wellness Tourism: Market watchers have observed that travellers suffering from pent-up demand have reformulated their values, looking for natural, ethical, and sustainable wellness trips which actively contribute to their mental and physical well-being.
Spas: Spas are a hands-on service industry. While many closed or ceased operations during the pandemic, this sub-sector is predicted to make a spectacular recovery with market worth increasing by 17% annually to reach $150,5 billion in 2025.
Wellness real estate: World citizens with the means have internalised the positive role a healthy environment plays in our mental and health well-being. This is a powerful factor in making this sub-sector a strong growth leader in a post-Covid world. The market worth of wellness real estate is set to double to $580 billion in 2025.
Regionally, the Asia-Pacific market with its natural beauty is considered one of the fastest growing regions in the wellness market. The region is closely followed by North America and Europe. Per capita spending on wellness is significantly higher in the US and Europe due to their large middle classes with disposable income.
Other top international wellness tourism destinations include Costa Rica, Aruba, Iceland, Norway, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Turkey, Greece, California, Canada, Hawaii, Bali, the Maldives, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Just about all sub-sectors in the Wellness Tourism market are forecast to grow rapidly in the next few years as conscious consumers turn to brands which support inclusivity and enable them to reduce negative impacts on the planet.
Let’s discover what’s driving this demand.
Why Wellness Tourism?
One thing Covid-19 has done is divide our consciousness into pre- and post-Covid periods. The way we perceive the world and the way we experience it has shifted fundamentally.
The changed nature of work and work stress, a growing middle class with higher incomes, an ageing global population and a planet in crisis has changed our preferences and how we choose to live our lives.
With the increase in work stress and mental health issues raised by Covid-19, people are looking to change their lifestyles for the better and to make ethical choices guaranteeing a sustainable future for the planet.
Older or mature world citizens are focusing more on a work/life balance that considers not only their physical well-being but also their mental and spiritual well-being. Millennials and Generation Zs now value meaningful experiences over accumulating material wealth. This has resulted in people choosing wellness tourism to travel aimed at promoting mental health and overall well-being by means of physical, spiritual and psychological health activities.
Wellness tourism is now seen as bringing about a mental or mind reboot, a way to relax or get out of your comfort zone. Wellness travellers gain new knowledge and experiences, have lower stress levels and take time for self-care.
A good way of looking at wellness tourism is it contributes to expanding your emotional bandwidth or clearing out your hard drive.
Future Trends In Wellness Tourism
The 2022 Global Wellness Summit took place in Tel Aviv in Israel from 31 October to 3 November.
A report prepared by the Global Wellness Institute was presented at the summit. The report called for a reboot of wellness policies aimed at improving public and private health and opening up the industry to include everyone and not just the elite.
The report backed its call with evidence that showed the financial benefits to society of making wellness more inclusive of everyone. For example, for every yearly increase in people’s wellness spend of US$800 (or €806, £694), world citizens’ happiness goes up by 7% and their life expectancy rises by 1.26 years.
Trend Forecasts For Wellness Tourism
These trends were all highlighted at the 2022 Global Wellness Summit.
You are what you eat: Vitamin and mineral supplements will be replaced by evidence-based compounds shown to boost metabolic health and the microbiome in our digestive tracts.
Integrating metabolic health and personalised nutrition will be favoured over one-size fits all approaches. Reading and understanding food packaging labels will become trendsetting with consumers favouring less (or no) sugar and plant-based foods.
Consumers are making conscious choices about what they eat with many turning to eating or consuming more beneficial fatty acids such as Omega 3, fruit, protein (especially plant-based protein) and leafy greens.
The built environment: People are placing much more emphasis on healthier homes, buildings and inner-city spaces that boost physical and mental well-being. Residents want to live and spend their free time in an environment that meets their needs in terms of nurturing physical and mental well-being.
Mindfulness will continue to grow: Mindfulness has been embraced by millions and gained in popularity over the last decade. It is even currently taught in many life skills classes at public schools these days.
The last few years have seen an increase in more people practising mindfulness. Statista reports that there has been a marked increase in the development and release of meditation and fitness apps over the last 5 years. The stats resource predicts that meditation apps will show an annual growth rate of almost 19%, culminating in a projected market share of around $10 million by 2025.
The relationship between how we breathe and our overall health is almost universally accepted by the medical fraternity. Some market observers have gone as far as to predict regular breathing parties and breathing festivals by 2030.
The move to slower travel: Manic, mega holidays will be replaced by closer, slower, and more mindful travel choices. This trend will see “tentative” travellers making more ethical choices to travel smaller distances by seeking destinations closer to home. Many are becoming tourists in their own backyards in an effort to mitigate their carbon footprint.
People also want to leave their destination in a better condition than they found it. Future travel choices will be focused on rejuvenation and restoration rather than straight tourism. Many travel choices will be ethical as people want to ensure their stay benefits local economies.
Fitness: The fitness app market is expected to reach $30.63 billion by 2030. Smartwatches and fitness apps are here to stay, and their popularity will only increase as demand lowers prices, making them affordable for everyone. Technology enables us to make choices based on the data we get from apps and technology.
Wellness On The Rise
All in all, wellness tourism’s benefits are huge. Not only does wellness tourism boost people’s well-being, but it also teaches people to make healthier choices and exposes them to different cultures and ways of seeing the world.
Wellness tourism can result in less stress, fitter, and healthier citizens. The trickle-down effect on society as a whole is immeasurable. Wellness tourism also benefits local communities and local economies by providing opportunities for people to build micro and small economies by placing tourism money in local hands.
In this way travellers seeking well-being can contribute to local livelihoods, boosting household income in less well-off communities.
From communities sharing their local knowledge, to food preparation, providing transport or running a small digital or internet service at a corner cafe － the smallest services all contribute to building better lives.