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Significant growth in international wellness tourism

Significant growth in international wellness tourism
January 29, 2017

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has released new data showing that international wellness tourism revenues have been growing at a significantly faster rate - 20% from 2013 to 2015 - than domestic wellness travel, which grew 11% in the same period.

Statistics also revealed that secondary wellness tourism - which is defined as wellness services sought during travel, but where wellness is not the main purpose of the trip - is growing slightly faster than primary wellness tourism, where the main purpose of the trip is wellness.

The statistics were revealed at the World Travel Market in London late last year, where the GWI hosted the Wellness Travel Symposium.

The GWI also recently reported that global wellness tourism revenues grew an impressive 14% from 2013 to 2105 (to US$563 billion), more than twice as fast as overall tourism (6.9%) - while also projecting that this “unstoppable” tourism category would grow another 37.5%, to US$808 billion, by year 2020.

The top 20 national wellness tourism markets (inbound and domestic combined) show the USA as the world’s largest market, with US$202 billion in revenues, or more than three times more than second market, Germany. Meanwhile China showed the biggest growth: jumping from the ninth largest market in 2013, to fourthth in 2015, with revenues growing more than 300%, from US$12.3 billion to US$29.5 billion

GWI Senior Research Fellow Katherine Johnston advised “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.

“But given the country’s unique wellness ‘assets’ - from traditional Chinese 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.”

Domestic wellness tourism represents the majority of wellness trips (83%) and revenues (67%). But international/inbound wellness tourism grew at a much faster rate than its domestic equivalent from 2013-2015: 22% growth in trips and 20% growth in revenues for international, compared to 17% and 11% for domestic.

While international revenues grew more than twice as fast as domestic, both categories saw strong growth from 2013 to 2015: international trips grew from 95.3 million to 116 million, while domestic trips jumped from 491 million to 575 million.

According to the GWI, the bulk of wellness travel is done by secondary wellness tourists – those who seek wellness experiences during travel - but where wellness is not the primary motivation for the trip.

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.

The top five growth leaders for percentage increase in wellness trips (among the top 20 nations for wellness tourism revenues) are:

1. Australia (+85%), 
2. China (+60%), 
3. Brazil (+46%), 
4. Indonesia (+40%) and 
5. Russia (+31%)

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