Link­ing the Global Health Cri­sis and Well­ness Hol­i­days

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Front Page - Writ­ten by: Melissa Richter

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.


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,

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