Global Wellness Tourism Economy


A latest study conducted by SRI International reveals wellness tourism has become a $439 billion market!

It was a defining moment for the global wellness industry when, earlier this month, the Global Wellness Tourism Economy report valued the market at a staggering $439 billion.

The figure was shared with delegates at the first Global Wellness Tourism Congress, which was held in New Delhi. To say it’s a landmark study is probably a bit of an understatement. The insights this report has provided will help us, the spa industry, to better understand the global wellness economy on a much broader scale.

According to findings in the report, the global wellness economy is set to grow on average at around 9.9 per cent each year for the next five years – that’s almost double that of global tourism’s predicted growth rate. By 2017, global wellness tourism is predicted to have reached a record new height of $678.5 billion – 16 per cent of world tourism’s total turnover!

The growth of the wellness tourism market is great news, along with some other statistics which have been released from the report which are bound to have a positive effect on the spa industry.


Let’s take a look at some of the interesting statistics that were shared by The Weekender which are important indicators as to why the future of the global wellness economy is looking so bright:


  • Wellness tourism is defined as “travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing”
  • Wellness tourism accounts for 14 per cent of all international and domestic tourism expenditures.
  • Domestic wellness tourism has become a much larger market than international tourism, and represents around 84 per cent of wellness tourism visits and 68 per cent of expenditures.
  • Wellness tourism generates an impressive 11.7 million jobs, and delivers $1.3 trillion (US) of global economic impact.
  • Up until now, Europe and North America have accounted for a predictable 63 per cent of the consumer market for global wellness tourism – the top five countries being France, the United States, Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
  • Over half of all predicted growth in wellness tourism trips up to 2017 will take place in Asia, Middle East/North Africa, and Latin America.
  • India is set for the highest increase in the global wellness economy, with an expected growth rate of 20 per cent a year up until 2017
  • Although spa tourism has become a core component of wellness tourism (41 per cent of the overall market), non spa-related wellness tourism still represents around 59 per cent of the market.


“Wellness tourism is poised to reshape tourism as we know it. So many 21st century forces are fuelling it, including the rise of chronic diseases and the unprecedented stress of modern life,” claimed GSWS keynote speaker and former present and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, Jean-Claude Baumgarten. He went on to state that what people actually want from their ever-dwindling time off from work, is to achieve a ‘sea change’ – involving visiting destinations that can deliver not only enjoyment, but also physical, spiritual, emotional and environmental health.

The report was led by senior consultant Ophelia Yeung, and senior economist Katherine Johnston. Thanks to the findings, we can now see that the global wellness economy is set to have a drastic impact not only on the tourism industry as people change the way they travel, but also for the spa and related industries.

In the past, vacations have often been associated with overindulgence. Now it is clear more and more people are choosing healthier options, with spas being a top holiday choice.

By Sonal

Sonal Uberoi creates and delivers smarter spas around the world. Spas and hotel groups hire Sonal to help them design, set up and manage their wellness businesses. Her finance background and worldwide operations experience in the spa, wellness and hospitality sectors make Sonal the go-to expert for business optimisation solutions. Connect with Sonal on LinkedIn

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