Linking the Global Health Crisis and Wellness Holidays
With a population that is rapidly aging in most of the developed world, and rising incomes in emerging economies such as China and India, the leisure travel market is a sector currently on the rise. With more people than ever traveling internationally, the industry has developed unique niche markets to meet the demands of these new consumers. One such trend is the global demand for health- oriented holidays that are focused on fitness and wellness options. Driven in part by epidemic level rates of both preventable Type II diabetes and obesity, the travel sector is meeting this new demand globally, and in Asia it is doing so in some creative and unexpected ways.
According to a recent study done by The Oxford Economics Tourism Decision Metrics ( TDM), an aging global population and the rising income of the middle class have been identified as two of the driving forces behind the rise in leisure and luxury travel. The study discovered that globally, households that make at least USD 20,000 per year account for more than 90 percent of spending on international travel today, and by the year 2025 an estimated 945 million households around the world will be within this income range. It is also predicted that during this same time period travelers aged 65+ will more than double their international travel. The report also suggested that older travelers spend more and travel for longer periods of time than their younger counterparts and medical and wellness tourism plays a big role in attracting this clientele.
PREDICTED GROWTH IN THE WELLNESS TRAVEL SECTOR
Despite fluctuations and the relative volatility inherent in the global economy, simultaneous growth in both the luxury travel and wellness travel sector is pre- dicted. The TDM reports that in the years between 2011 and 2015, there was a rise globally in luxury travel that significantly exceeded other types of travel. Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa are predicted to be the fastest growing regions over the next 10 years, with Asia expected to nearly double its growth in luxury tourism. Over the next 10 years, the growth rate in outbound luxury trips is projected at 6.2% which is almost a third greater than overall travel ( 4.8%) for the same time period.
Upwardly mobile urbanites with more disposable income and aging populations worldwide are driving demand and positioning wellness tourism as one of the most lucrative and fastest growing segments of the travel industry today. According to the research firm SRI International, wellness tourism is a USD 494 billion industry that has grown 12.7% since 2012. This is also supported by The Global Wellness Tourism Economy report by Ophelia Yeung and Katherine Johnston published in 2013. Wellness tourism is projected to grow by more than 9% per year through 2017 which is nearly 50% faster than overall global tourism. Additionally, the vast majority of wellness holidays projected through 2017 will take place in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
Another underlying force driving momentum is the shift in the social consciousness towards health and wellness on a global level. People no longer want just a relaxing spa holiday with massages and cocktails or a hardcore detox with colonics and liquid diets. The shift is towards health- oriented holidays that complement a healthy lifestyle with information from experts on nutrition, exercise, yoga, stress reduction, and personalized solutions for wellness.
Older populations are terested in prevention,