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    13 May 2024

    2024 Travel Trends: Wellness Tourism

    hotelbeds wellness tourism

    What is wellness tourism?

    Wellness tourism is the type of travel aiming to maintain or improve wellbeing. According to the Global Wellness Institute, there are two types of wellness travellers: primary and secondary. 


    For primary wellness travellers, wellness activities are the main purpose of the trip. Secondary wellness travellers only engage in wellness activities as a part of the trip, meaning they don’t travel exclusively for the wellness experience. In 2022, the biggest national wellness tourism markets were the USA, Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland, with the USA accounting for 24% of all wellness trips.


    Wellness activities could be linked to what a country has to offer, such as Hungary’s thermal baths or Iceland’s lagoons. Or, travellers’ particular interests could shape the wellness experience — luxury travellers might pick spa retreats, sports enthusiasts might go for a surf camp, or culture lovers might prefer to try a traditional massage. 


    Considering the broad-reaching, and entirely subjective, nature of wellness as a concept, there's a wellness travel experience for every type of traveller on every continent.

    What are the benefits of wellness tourism for travel providers?

    Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.6%, wellness travel is a big part of the global wellness economy. In 2022, it made up $651 billion of the $5.6 trillion wellness industry. At this growth rate, wellness tourism is expected to cross the $1 trillion mark in 2024, and the global wellness economy to reach $8.5 trillion by 2027.


    Travel providers can capitalise on bookings for wellness trips from both primary and secondary travellers; here are just a few reasons why wellness tourism is an important travel motivator, and certainly a travel trend to take advantage of:


    Wellness travel is profitable: Accounting for 18.7% of all tourism spending, wellness travellers spend more money than typical tourists. On average, in 2022, wellness travellers spent  $1,764 per international trip, and $668 per domestic trip. 

    Wide range of travel activities: Not only is wellness tourism an integral part of the profitable wellness industry, but the wide-reaching concept of wellness itself means that travellers can - with the help of a broad range of options offered by an expansive travel portfolio - curate an experience that aligns with their preferences, needs and personal beliefs. 


    Choice of different destinations: It is possible to book wellness activities all around the world. The Middle East-North Africa region, in particular, has been a leading region in wellness tourism. With a 61.5% annual growth between 2020 and 2022, the average wellness traveller spends $1,354 in this region. The sheer choice of options for travellers from all walks of life means that wellness tourism is one of the more accessible forms of experiential tourism.

    Examples of Wellness Tourism

    You can find more wellness travel experiences, alongside hotels and resorts all around the world offering bespoke wellness programs and wellness products that can be tailored to each travellers' needs through our Booking Engine. 


    With more than 200,000 accommodation options, including Sustainable Hotels, and 16,000 experiences, our expansive travel product portfolio allows you to offer a comprehensive wellness tourism experience unique to each travellers' requirements.


    For now, here are some popular wellness experiences for travellers from all walks of life:

    Spa Retreats

    In 2022, the spa industry had over 181,000 spas, generating $105 billion in revenue. A timeless activity, spa retreats would be a good fit for primary wellness travellers. Check out 2024’s top-rated spas, such as Winvian Farm in Connecticut, listed in Condé Nast Traveller’s Reader Choice Awards for six years in a row. In Winvian, your clients can choose from 6 spa packages, which include massages, hydrotherapy, oxygen facials, yoga, and reflexology.


    Make sure to choose the right spa for the right type of traveller. Families can explore multi-generation spas — Zulal Wellness Resort in Qatar has a family bonding retreat, focusing on wellness activities for the whole family. For couples, consider checking out spas in romantic destinations, offering couple massages and wellness treatments.

    Cultural Wellness Experiences

    Experiential travel is a rising travel trend, with all types of travellers prioritising learning about the culture. Culinary travellers do this by tasting the local food, adventure travellers book trips to explore remote regions, and wellness travellers discover the different wellness traditions.


    Whether that’s the Aufguss sauna rituals in Central Europe and Germany or the well-known Thai massages in Thailand, many countries have accessible cultural practices that can be experienced through the lens of wellness. One of the best ways to create an accessible but authentic experience for travellers is to look for locally-owned practices, as well as hotels and resorts that provide culturally sensitive and inspired wellness programs for their guests. Not only does this allow travellers a glimpse into the, often historically-rich, culture of their destination of choice, but it also supports local economies - especially when those hotels, resorts and experiences are run by the region's citizens.


    For example, in Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos in Mexico, Mexican folk-healing therapies inspire the hotel’s wellness offerings, making it possible to experience mezcal-infused massages, herbal aromatherapy, energy cleansing rituals, and more.

    Outdoor Wellness Activities 

    A 2019 study found that spending a minimum of 120 minutes a week is good for health and wellbeing. Whether that’s taking a walk, swimming, or going on a retreat in a remote town, your clients might be looking for outdoor wellness activities after staying inside for long work weeks. For sports enthusiasts, recommend physical activity-based events, such as yoga camps or fitness programs. 


    There are always interesting country-specific destinations — Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, for example, offers outdoor massages and float therapy. Similarly, Japan is the birthplace of forest bathing, a philosophy aiming to reduce stress by nature immersion. For a complete disconnection from daily life, explore silent retreats, where participants stay quiet throughout the event while engaging in activities like meditation and walks in nature. 

    Sleep Wellness

    The Hilton Trends Report named 2024 the year of Rest and Relaxation, putting sleep travel in the spotlight. To invest in sleep, Hilton uses high-quality mattresses, while equipping some of its hotels with temperature-controlled beds, sound-absorbing walls, and smart technology. Hyatt also joined the sleep travel trend, creating a Restorative Sleep Suite in New York with a special AI-powered bed.


    Besides hotels, experiences that improve visitors’ sleep are trending — star bathing and forest bathing are both thought to reduce stress and improve sleep quality by boosting melatonin. For where sleep meets tech, check out resorts and high-tech wellness programmes. Kamalaya Koh Samui in Thailand has a dedicated sleep wellness program, featuring traditional massages, mentoring sessions, and IV therapy.

    Technology in Wellness

    It’s possible to find high-tech wellness programmes in medical spas, retreats, and wellness centres around the world. These programmes could be related to beauty, fitness, anti-aging, or mindfulness, helping clients reach their wellness goals. 


    In Spain, for example, SHA Medical Spa has The Rebalance & Energise Programme, offering ozone therapy to stimulate the immune system. While in Bali travellers can experience a truly bespoke wellness program in many of the unique resorts in this stunning location, with deep roots in the Ayurvedic wellness practice. Experiences can include holistic treatments to achieve internal balance, right through to tech-powered treatments such as hyperbaric oxygen chambers, sleep enhancement technology, and Microbiome facials. 


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    A Guide To 2024 Travel Trends for Travel Providers

    Here’s what you can expect in our guide to trending travel in 2024:

    ⭐ The latest health and wellness travel preferences. 
    ⭐ Why ‘set-jetting’ and ‘retailtainment’ are some of the top upcoming experience tourism trends.
    ⭐ How travel technology continues to shape the industry.
    ⭐ What tomorrow’s luxury traveller is looking for. 
    ⭐ How Generation Alpha is driving the shape of modern familial travel. 

    and more!