Have you ever tried yoga or meditation?
I have. I tried yoga a couple of times but it wasn’t my thing. But nowadays for millions of people it is a daily routine. Not only yoga but also the whole wellness tourism plays a significant role in tourism industry.
According to Yeoman in year 2022 health and wellness tourism will make up 22 % of world’s GDP. Wellness tourism creates 11,7 million jobs globally and generates 1,7 billion euros which impacts highly on global economy according to the website called HospitalityBizIndia.
I was surprised about that.
Wellness, mindfullness, wellbeing -what do those words mean and how do they differ? How do they show up in tourism industry?
Wellness is a combination of the words wellbeing and fitness. In other words wellness means active wellbeing. According to Müller and Kaufmann wellness means that the body, soul and mind are in balance. It’s a choice of lifestyle, maintaining health and improving it.
Psychological wellness focuses on controlling the mind and emotions. Mindfullness is one part of psychological wellness. Mindfullness includes meditation, improving self-esteem, improving communication skills, stress relief, controlling anxiety and preventing depression. Shortly put mindfullness is both accepting your own emotions and thoughts and consiously living with them. Mental wellness is a huge trend in wellness tourism. Meditation has cleared it’s way to ease peoples’ hectic lives. (Smith & Puzcko 2014.)
The definition for wellness tourism is that it doesn’t cure diseases, it helps to maintain and to improve the state of the tourist’s health and gives more vitality. Wellness tourism creates an overall healthy feeling which improves both physical condition and mental stability. (Chen, Feng-Hsiang & Wu 2013.)
Tourism industry is divided into different categories such as: suntourism, cultural tourism, sport tourism, rural tourism and health tourism. Wellness tourism is categorized under health tourism. The top wellness tourism countries are USA, Germany, Japan, France and Austria and they represent over half of the wellness tourism market. (HospitalityBizIndia 2014.)
My own assumption was that people would want to travel to for instance South-East Asia to indulge themselves with affordable spa treatments but my assumption was wrong. A surprising new trend has been emerging to the wellness tourism market: people don’t want to travel far for a wellness holiday, they want to travel within their homeland or countries nearby. In my thesis I asked more than a thousand Finns to name their favourite spot for wellness travel and most of the people answered Finland. The next most popular destinations were the neighbouring countries.
Did you know that by the year 2022 healthcare will be the world’s largest industry due to ageing?
People are more health-conscious and that has an impact on consuming wellness products. The products are not only concerning physical exercise like yoga but they can be about beauty care, massage, sauna, spa treatments or mental wellness. The new coming trend in wellness tourism is called forest bathing. Wellness tourists go to Japan and Finland to take slow walks in the forests and to enjoy the nature and quietness.
Another trend in wellness tourism is food travel. I guess you, too, have friends who are very conscious of their nutrition. People want to travel to the roots of the food ingredients, prepare the local foods and at the same time be connected with the local agriculture. Pure food is well appreciated.
I see many of my friends turning into purer food and getting inspired to take care of their bodies even more. Nowadays people tend to be so stressed out from work and they want to spend more time and money on their health and wellbeing. And how does this affect to tourism industry? People spend money on wellness vacations because they want to take care of their health throughout the vacation so that they will have more strength to survive in their busy everyday lives.
Wellness is not only about big lifechanging acts. Even small changes in everyday life might improve your wellbeing. I’m not a fan of yoga. But I do love to go to gym and play other sports. That is my way to improve my physical health. For mental health people have different strategies to improve it. Some adore meditation and find their calmness throughout that. I enjoy making puzzles, drawing and also exercising is my mental cure.
Wellness has so many different forms that scientists find it difficult to categorize it. In wellness tourism the main focus is that some of the activities that you do during your vacation improve your physical, mental or spiritual health. It might be taking a massage and indulging yourself with beauty treatments or it might be Tai Chi at the beach at sunrise.
The diversity of wellness makes it hard for tourist industry companies to develop products suitable for eveyone. One likes to do yoga and meditate three times a day and the other likes to run and focus on eating nutritious healthy food. People have different levels of consuming wellness products and making the demand match the offer is not a piece of cake.
But there’s no doubt that wellness tourism will rise and it is the business to be in.
Chen, K., Feng-Hsiang, C. & Wu, C. 2013. Investigating the wellness tourism factors in hot spring hotel customer service. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 25, 7, pages. 1092–1114.
HospitalityBizIndia 2013. Wellness Tourism to grow 50% faster than global tourism by 2017: SRI International Study. Internet address: http://www.hospitalitybizindia.com/detailNews.aspx?aid=18096&sid=20.
Müller, H. & Kaufmann, L. 2001. Wellness tourism: market analysis of a special health tourist segment and implications for the hotel industry. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 7, 1, pages. 5-17.
Smith, M. & Puczkó, L. 2014. Health, Tourism and Hospitality: Spas, Wellness and Medical Travel. Routledge. Abingdon.
Tourism-review.com 2015. Wellness tourism trends – Sub-Saharan Africa growing the most. Internet address: http://www.tourism-review.com/top-trends-of-global-wellness-tourism-news4484.
Yeoman, I. 2008. Tommorow’s Tourist – Scenarios & Trends. Routledge. New York.
Hanna Reunanen & Ari Ojanperä