Ever feel like packing your bags and going to a private resort with a breathtaking view of the ocean? How about going on a meditation retreat within one of the many tranquil jungles in Southeast Asia?
Well, that’s what we call wellness tourism! The traveller’s way of living your best lives.
Wellness tourism is defined as a form of travel with a focus on self-development and personal growth. It’s about going to places and participating in activities that privilege one’s well-being and enlightenment.
It’s a booming travel trend that consistently pulls huge numbers for the travel and hospitality sector. In fact, according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), wellness tourism is expected to bring in more than US$1.1 billion by 2025, making it one of the fastest-growing tourism markets.
Despite these huge numbers, though, it remains a mystery to a lot of travellers. So today, we’ll talk about the rise and development of wellness tourism!
The era of wellness
The wellness industry taking over tourism can be attributed mainly to our own obsession with the idea of self-care. Believe it or not, the industry is valued at $4.5 trillion, according to research by the GWI.
Even though society’s obsession with wellness raises some eyebrows, there’s no denying that people have embraced it as their way of life. People are getting into fitness, starting meditations, and switching to a vegan or plant-based diet are a few testaments to this.
As we move towards a healthier and more positive lifestyle, it’s only natural that wellness will spill over our travel goals. It’s worth noting that it’s mostly millennials who are subscribing to this type of lifestyle.
And as the purchasing power of young people increases over time, the wellness industry as a whole will continue to thrive.
As much as the rise of health and wellness tourism is rooted in our desire to live our best lives, the epidemic of chronic diseases counts as a factor too. Many of us are sleep-deprived, don’t enjoy a work-life balance, and are feeling burnt out about life in general.
Plus, due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to leave to go anywhere to unwind and relax for over 2 years. Imagine the physical and mental weight of all these, so it makes sense for people to carry the desire to travel and escape.
However, it’s not enough to just travel and escape. It’s not enough to go on vacations that aren’t physically and mentally rejuvenating. This is where health and wellness tourism enters the picture.
What does the rise of health and wellness tourism mean?
We all know that tourism can be a huge contributor to a country’s economy. Many Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines are dependent on tourism.
Wellness tourism can give the travel and tourism sector of these countries a much-needed boost.
It goes without saying that wellness tourists are likely (and capable) to spend more than normal tourists.
For example, meditation retreats (one of the most popular wellness tourism activities) can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000, depending on the length of the programme and the type of accommodation.
Wellness tourism means more jobs for the local community too. According to Global Wellness Institute, there are more than 5 million jobs attached to wellness tourism in India.
Apart from local communities, it also helps travel agents stay in business as wellness tourists rely on them for their niche expertise.
Another good thing about health and wellness tourism is that it helps with “overtourism,” defined as when a location is overpopulated by tourists that the entire experience is ruined.
Think about how crowded theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios can get during the summer!
Wellness travel brings people to the country, but not to the same old tourist places. It encourages them to explore off-the-grid and underappreciated locations, which could help the local communities there in the process.
What are the negative effects of this travel trend?
Beyond the vegan meals and yoga sessions, health and wellness tourism comes with downsides too.
First off, it’s not a regulated industry, which means training and qualifications largely differ from one country to another. The experience isn’t always going to be the same in every country.
Second, there’s no standardised regulating body like FDA that monitors and controls quality and safety. Although engaging in wellness tourism is generally safe, it can be hard to filter the dangerous and sketchy experiences from the legit ones.
Another thing is that wellness destinations aren’t exactly equipped to handle the influx of tourists. One of the selling points of wellness tours is making remote (and possibly underdeveloped) locations more accessible to tourists.
However, when everyone shows up at the same time, things can get chaotic, which can affect the life and livelihood of the local communities.
Embracing wellness tourism
When done right, wellness tourism can help broaden horizons, keep us physically and mentally healthy, boost the economy, and of course, improve our Instagram feeds.
It’s a relatively newer travel trend born out of our desire to not only escape but also rejuvenate, but it’s here to stay!
By the way, if you’re looking for tours and activities in Singapore, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Here at Monster Day Tours, we offer bespoke tours that people of all ages will enjoy!