'Wellness Travel' Market Booming

"Wellness travel" is close to becoming a half-billion-dollar industry, according to a new report.

“Wellness travel” is close to becoming a half-billion-dollar industry, according to a new report.

Spafinder Wellness 365, a marketing and incentives company within the wellness travel niche, says the global market is now estimated at $494 billion, with growth around the globe.

“The survey confirms what we have recognized for several years,” said John Bevan,” chief operating officer of the company. “Growth in wellness travel is outpacing traditional travel as people recognize the importance of healthier options. The hospitality and travel industries need to pay attention to the fact that this is a travel sector that cannot be ignored.”

Wellness travel is loosely defined as health-oriented travel, designed to improve or revitalize one’s physical, mental, or spiritual health. The classic wellness activity is going to a spa. However, the Spafinder Wellness 365 survey found only about 1 in 5 wellness-focused travelers were focusing their trips on spas.

The survey was conducted among more than 200 travel agents in North America and Europe. A large majority — 86% – said they expect to see growth in wellness

travel this year. The western US, including Hawaii, is the most popular region for domestic wellness travel. Internationally, Asia generally, and Thailand, India, and Bali in particular, were seen as growth areas. Costa Rice was the top destination in the Americas.

This is all good news for the travel industry, not only because wellness travel is on the rise, but also because wellness travelers tend to be willing to pay more for their experiences. Some 83% of survey respondents said their customers are willing to pay a premium for health-focused travel.

“Today, wellness travel reaches far beyond traditional spa experiences, and the survey reveals a savvy new traveler, one that demands an extremely wide range of healthier experiences, from check in to check out, said Mia Kyricos, the chief brand officer at the company Spafinder Wellness.