Imagine spending 10 days on a luxury cruise, complete with healers and yogis who help you unlock your mindfulness. Or how about a trip to India that includes a mind-body-soul detox with doctors practicing the world’s most ancient wellness system? With wellness tourism, more Americans than ever are trading weight gain and overpriced sightseeing tours with one-of-a-kind experiences like these.
The global wellness and travel industries are both booming, so it’s no surprise that its healthy hybrid—wellness tourism—is one of the biggest trends of the last two years. Wellness tourism, a key sector in health and wellness, is valued at $563 billion, representing a 14% growth rate between 2013 and 2015.
Here’s what you need to know about wellness tourism.
What is Wellness Tourism?
The global health and wellness industry is a $3.72 trillion market. It grew by more than 10% between 2013 and 2015, and this trend is only expected to continue. Wellness tourism has quickly become one of the industry’s fastest growing tourism segments, fueled by a combination of stressful daily life and a growing interest in all things health.
Americans are working harder. We are sleeping less, stressing more and spending an average of 1,789 hours on the job each year—more than most Europeans. Given these statistics, it’s no wonder people are experiencing burnout more than they used to, and turning to wellness vacations to ease their bodies and minds.
Wellness tourism is essentially a vacation designed to enhance or maintain one’s wellbeing, whether that’s in the physical, mental or spiritual form. These trips range from yoga retreats and boot camps to wellness cruises and cooking tours. And they’re not just for the luxury traveler, with more than 690 million wellness-focused trips taken in 2015 worldwide. Trends such as wellness cruises, spa tourism, healthy hotels and yoga have taken over the traditional tourism world.
Yoga has become one of the year’s leading fitness trends due to its ability to blend health and wellness into one rejuvenating workout. Spas such as Miraval Resort & Spa in Arizona offer a healing Nâga experience, where strands of thick silk are used to suspend clients. Deep stretching and massaging are involved to create the ultimate state of relaxation and restore circulation. Tourism companies like Invigorate Travel create customized wellness excursions for small groups looking to get out of stress mode and into mindfulness.
Trends in Health and Wellness Tourism
Last year, 71% of consumers became more aware of wellness travel, and 86% of travel advisors expect wellness tourism to grow. As wellness tourism awareness grows, a number of trends have captivated travelers. Here are a few of the trends dominating the current health and wellness travel landscape.
- Spa Tourism: Now a $179.7 billion market, spa tourism appeals to those who want health and relaxation as a focal point of their travels. Guests are expected to leave the spa in better health, with a better mindset and with an overall sense of peace. Spas are designed to induce relaxation, which can drop those dangerous cortisol levels that leave us feeling frazzled and fatigued.
- Wellness Cruises: Believe it or not, it’s possible to stay healthy on a cruise ship vacation. Wellness cruises have merged the “at sea” ambiance with food and activities centered around health and fitness. The Galapagos Wellness Cruise, for example, allows guests to partake in yoga, tai chi, qi gong and meditation sessions—all while sailing through the Galapagos Islands. It’s also worth noting that even if you’re not on a cruise specifically designed as a “wellness vacation,” you will likely still find a gym and/or running track on your cruise ship to help balance out the tempting buffets.
- Healthy Hotels: If you’re a person who would rather practice wellness on land, then a healthy hotel could be for you. Many hotels, including major brands like Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, are offering complimentary walking, jogging and hiking tours. Some even offer healthy room-service dining options, better access to workout equipment and hotel rooms with exercise equipment inside.
With the possibilities of wellness tourism, it’s never been easier to take a break from bad habits while on vacation. The trick, though, is ensuring that your reduced stress levels and mindfulness boost stay with you once you’re back to your daily grind. For that, experts say wellness rituals, not a one-time mindfulness experience, are the true game-changer.