The growing demand for wellness travel has been well documented and well heeded across the luxury tourism sectors in recent years.
From healthier food options to state-of-the art gyms to a broader range of special fitness classes, fitness concierges and on-site sleep experts, luxury hospitality companies have been scurrying to meet the demands of more active, health-focused travelers.
The latest report from the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) underscores the wisdom of expanding such offerings.
According to research presented this week at the World Travel Market in London, GWI reported that secondary wellness tourism, where travelers seek wellness experiences even when it is not the primary motivation for the trip, makes up the bulk of wellness tourism and is growing even faster than tourism with it as a primary focus.
The group said secondary wellness tourists accounted for 89% of wellness tourism trips and 86% of expenditures in 2015, up from 87% of trips and 84% expenditures in 2013.
“While the travel and hospitality industry tends to focus on the primary wellness traveler they need to pay keen attention to mainstream travelers who are increasingly incorporating more healthy experiences (whether spa treatments, fitness or food) into their overall leisure and business travel,” the group said in a press release.
The report came just a few weeks after GWI reported that global wellness tourism revenues grew 14% from 2013 to 2015, more than twice as fast as overall tourism, which increased 6.9%. GWI said wellness tourism revenues hit $563 billion, and predicted this travel category will grow another 37.5%, to $808 billion, by 2020.
GWI also said its research shows the United States remains the undisputed powerhouse in wellness travel, with $202 billion in revenues.
China, meantime, showed the most growth in wellness tourism, jumping from the ninth largest market in 2013, to fourth in 2015, with a 300% increase in revenues.
“The Chinese consumer’s appetite for wellness-focused travel is huge and growing, but the current infrastructure for delivering these services and experiences in China at an international standard is still limited,” said Katherine Johnston, senior research fellow at GWI. “But given the country’s unique wellness assets from [traditional Chinese medicine] and herbal medicine, to energy work and martial arts there is enormous potential for China to become both an international and domestic wellness tourism destination.”