news • Aug 24 2023

Happy, Healthy and Well-Traveled: The Rise of Wellness Tourism

In the dog days of summer, people are traditionally looking to rest and recharge. After the pandemic, the struggles of navigating the changing way we work and raise children have weighed heavily on people, and they’re eager to get a break from the daily grind. This has led to a rise in a newer type of travel that transcends the typical family vacation. 

Wellness tourism, or travel meant to enhance one’s health and wellbeing, has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. In fact, the global wellness tourism market is expected to grow to $1178.93 billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 9.5%., according to recent market research. Let’s take a look at the trend’s rise, and how brands are making their mark in the industry.


What People are Looking For in Wellness Travel

Health and wellness is on the minds of Americans. In a recent Accenture study, it was determined that consumers see health and well-being as part of the “essential” spending category, and that means spending money on traveling. Two in five (39%) high-income respondents said they have booked a luxury trip or wellness retreat for some time in the next 12 months. 

In addition to the desire to “get away from it all,” people are eager for authentic experiences. As we stated in a previous blog post, the retail experience is currently driven by immersive brand experiences, and travel is no different. That means travelers are seeking more from a vacation than just a cocktail on a beach. Instead, they’re eagerly looking for something that delves into their wellness in an immersive way.  

At Vacayou, which specializes in wellness and active travel, organic traffic is up 300% from a year ago, particularly for mental health escapes. “People are starting to travel again, and they’re looking for healthier ways to travel,” said Vacayou CEO Murghil Montecalvo. “They are really starting to invest more in their self-care and their health. I think that is reflected in travel.”


Types of Wellness Travel that are Thriving

Within the wellness travel industry, there are some unique niches that are booming. While a spa vacation has long been the territory of the rich and famous, it’s now become more accessible to the masses.  Some of the biggest brands in the hotel world are actively expanding into the wellness travel realm. Consider the famed Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, which recently announced it is planning on expanding wellness offerings. Wellness resorts like Miraval in the Berkshires and Arizona are customizing stays “with therapies that address everything from emotional health to bone strength.” Their offerings include sound baths, clairvoyant readings, and grief therapy. 

In addition to spa vacations, travelers are seeking “inclusive, sustainable and regenerative travel experiences.”  Keith Henry, the chief executive officer of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, recently shared that “interest has never been higher” in tourism that truly absorbs local culture in a respectful, sustainable way. Consider Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand, where people can learn eco-friendly farming techniques on the property’s Iris Farm. Clearly, people are hoping to connect to each other and the environment through travel. 

Family vacations used to be famous for unhealthy fast food and cheesy destinations. Instead, people are ditching the typical family trip for healthy options that are focused on exercise and experience. Back in May, CNBC published a story citing market research showing that parents showed less interest in traveling to relax. Instead, they have expressed more interest in traveling for mental and physical health. Some of the most famous luxury travel brands in the world have tapped into this, including the Four Seasons Punta Mita in Mexico. Their KidsWell program for children teaches bubble-blowing breathwork, gratitude journaling, guided meditation, and rainbow relaxation watercolor classes. It’s a strong example that the target audience of wellness has expanded tremendously. Now, it’s focused on every member of the family.


Looking to the Future

Wellness tourism is a tremendous opportunity for growth. From picking flowers on an iris farm to practicing meditation in the Berkshires, traveling these days is all about exploring new places and maintaining one’s health and happiness. But it’s also an incredibly lucrative industry that brands recognize as a component of their future. 

Wellness tourism is expected to grow more than any other wellness sector, increasing by about 20.9% by 2025 to become a $1.1 billion slice of the economy, Fast Company reported. It’s the way of travel in the future, and companies should be prepared to take hold of it.  

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