In the pink: wellness tourism economy report from GWI shows healthy growth rates around the world

In the pink: wellness tourism economy report from GWI shows healthy growth rates around the world

The wellness tourism sector is predicted to continue growing at a faster rate than the general tourism industry, as more travellers focus on their health, fitness and well-being, according to research revealed today (Tuesday, 6 November) at WTM London 2018 – the event where ideas arrive.

A report entitled Global Wellness Tourism Economy predicts that wellness tourism will grow at an average annual rate of 7.5% through to 2022, considerably faster than the 6.4% annual growth which is forecast for overall global tourism.

The report author, the Global Wellness Institute, estimates that wellness tourists spent $639.4 billion in 2017 – a figure that is set to top $919 billion by 2022, representing 18% of the global tourism market.

The number of wellness tourism trips will grow by 8.1% annually to reach 1.2 billion in 2022.

“Growth has been driven by an expanding global middle class, growing consumer desire to adopt a wellness lifestyle, rising interest in experiential travel, and increasing affordability of flights and travel options,” says GWI researchers.

“Europe remains the destination for the largest number of wellness trips (292 million in 2017), while North America leads in wellness tourism expenditures ($241.7 billion in 2017). Asia has made the most gains in the number of wellness trips and wellness tourism expenditures, with demand stimulated by strong economies and an expanding middle class.”

The report highlights how wellness travellers spend more per trip than average tourists.

“In 2017, international wellness tourists on average spent $1,528 per trip, 53% more than the typical international tourist,” says the report.  “The premium for domestic wellness tourists is even higher. At $609 per trip, they spend 178% more than the typical domestic tourist.”

The lucrative nature of wellness tourists means there are many opportunities for tourism businesses to “infuse wellness into their offerings and capture spending”, adds the report.

It cites examples such as airports and airlines, which are offering spa treatments, wellness classes and healthier food options.

Meanwhile, ‘healthy hotels’ are now mainstream, with in-room fitness equipment, healthy snacks and partnerships with wellness brands. A similar trend is seen in the cruise sector, with wellness-themed voyages, notes GWI.

The number of countries marketing their wellness credentials has soared, rising from 65 in 2013 to more than 100 in 2018.

Destinations are also developing a “truly authentic and place-based tourism product and brand”, says GWI researchers, pointing to the ‘Land of Ayurveda’ branding in Kerala; Costa Rica’s ‘Wellness Pura Vida’ campaign; and Beverly Hills’ ‘City of Wellth’ initiative.

There’s also a shift away from “consuming” to “contributing”, say the report authors, as travellers are more aware of their impact on the communities they visit.

This trend from “Me” to “We” has seen Westin Hotels & Resorts organise activities such as beach clean-ups and develop a ‘ThreadForward’ programme to upcycle used hotel bed linen into pyjamas for children in need.

Paul Nelson, WTM Portfolio Press & PR Manager, said: “It’s very good news for the tourism industry in general that the wellness sector is in such good shape.

“It offers plenty of scope for travel businesses and tourist boards to cater for this robust market and develop fresh ideas for consumers.

“Furthermore, the new trend for contributing to local communities can help offset problems such as overtourism.

“We have seen more wellness exhibitors at WTM London this year so there will be hundreds of different opportunities for visitors to find out more the latest trends and what’s available, and they can also attend several wellness sessions.”

The Global Wellness Tourism Economy report is available for download (6/11/18) from this link and was authored by Ophelia Yeung and Katherine Johnston, Senior Research Fellows at the Global Wellness Institute. They will be joined by other wellness and wellbeing tourism experts at WTM London to discuss their report and trends in the sector:


The Wellness and Wellbeing hour – Global
6 Nov [14:15-15:15] WTM Global Stage – AS1350

The Wellness and Wellbeing hour – Americas
7 Nov [10:30-11:30] Americas Inspiration Zone – LA360

The Wellness and Wellbeing hour – Asia
7 Nov [14:30-15:30] Asia Inspiration Zone – AS1070

GWI Senior Research Fellows are available for one-on-one interviews during WTM, contact Cassandra Cavanah, or +1 818 397 4630

For the full GWI press release on the Global Wellness Tourism Report, click here (live 6/11/18).




About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) portfolio comprises six leading B2B events across four continents, generating more than $7 billion of industry deals. The events are:


WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. About 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating about £3.1 billion of travel industry contracts. Next event: 5-7 November 2018 – London.


Travel Forward is a new travel technology event co-located with WTM London 2018 and part of the WTM portfolio of events. The inaugural Travel Forward conference, exhibition and buyer programme will take place on 5–7 November 2018 at ExCeL London, showcasing next-generation technology for travel and hospitality.


WTM Latin America attracts about 9,000 senior executives and generates about US$374 million of new business. Taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this show attracts a global audience to meet and shape the direction of the travel industry. More than 8,000 unique visitors attend the event to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry news. Next event: 2-4 April 2019 – Sao Paulo.


WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.

Next event: 10-12 April 2019 – Cape Town.


Arabian Travel Market is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2018 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, with representation from 141 countries over the four days. The 25th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre. To find out more, please visit:

Next event: 28 April-1 May 2019 – Dubai.


About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events business, enhancing the power of face-to-face through data and digital tools at more than 500 events a year, in more than 43 countries, attracting more than seven million participants. Reed’s events are held in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.


About Reed Travel Exhibitions

Reed Travel Exhibitions is the world’s leading travel and tourism events organiser with a growing portfolio of more than 22 international travel and tourism trade events in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Our events are market leaders in their sectors, whether they are global and regional leisure travel trade events, or specialist events for meetings, incentives, conference, events (MICE) industry, business travel, luxury travel, travel technology as well as golf, spa and ski travel. We have more than 35 years’ experience in organising world-leading travel exhibitions.


More information, please contact:

Paul Nelson – WTM Portfolio PR Manager


T: +44 (0)20 8910 7032/ M: +44 (0)79 1955 5510

Natalia Hartmann – WTM Portfolio PR Executive


T: +44 (0)20 8439 5535/ M: +44 (0)74 0336 7331


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