Reflections on the Industry: Wellness Tourism is on the up

Wellness means different things to different people. Is it a spa weekend, walking in the forest, hugging trees, a meditation and yoga retreat, trekking with friends, a wellness cruise or a two week stay at a medi-spa? We all want to feel and look better and now an increasing number of consumer travellers see wellness as part of their holiday’s DNA. Wellness is no longer a niche sector.

Many destinations have jumped on the wellness stage, placing this segment of the industry firmly on the map as the key growth sector. It’s a big umbrella terminology. It crosses many themed holidays and retreats – spa, fitness, culture, spiritual, adventure and green tourism. Even spas retreats have changed and subdivided – the massage of years ago has had a cosmetic makeover resulting in many versions and styles of spa getaways.

Tourism businesses are adapting to the demands of the growing number of travelling consumers defined as wellness travellers. Visit Scotland www.visitscotland.org, for example, has published a review of industry trends and highlights self-development as its focus this year. According to their research, wellness tourism worldwide was worth £500bn in 2017, and has recently grown at more than twice the pace of tourism overall. With scenic vistas and healthy outdoor activities, they are offering holidays that provide “restorative recreation”. Being at one with nature, the destination naturally lends itself to themed retreats such as art workshops, survival training and creative writing.

Wellness, however, is not limited to land-based holidaying. Cruises lines have created itineraries to appeal to the wellness cruiser. AmaWaterways, www.amawaterways.com has a dedicated wellness host onboard its ships to keep the active sailor amongst us, busy, active and culturally enthused. There are bikes on board for guided rides along the towpaths and city tours during visits to cities and towns along the way. While ocean cruises such as Seaborn Cruises, www.seabourn.com has specific wellness programme for mindful sailing under the guidance of Dr Andrew Weil with thought provoking lectures and tailored treatments to integrate the concepts of wellness into lifestyle habits.

Island resorts are bringing in experts for exclusive specialist retreats such as a former professional ballet dancer, Grace Hurry, to host yoga & pilates holidays at the Niyama Private Islands in the Maldives, www.niyama.com which is part of Niyama’s ongoing programme of visiting practitioners from across the globe. The resort sees Dr Paolo Fernandes’ Longevity, Lymphatic Massage and Nutrition Programme

With sustainable tourism being a hot issue, Visit Scotland is promoting “green getaways” aimed at those who want to limit the impact on the environment. Tourism business are behind many environmental initiatives such as cleaning up beaches and helping poor neighbourhoods while airlines such as Ryanair aimito eliminate plastic cups and packaging on flights.

This type of holiday can also be an answer to over-tourism. Peaceful and more remote places lead the health traveller to less-know destination and away from the high traffic, traditional destinations and attraction that are usually on the bucket list – think historical attractions such as Peru’s Machu Picchu, and the floating city of Venice.

So, the wellness vacation is defining new products that are immersive, spiritual, experiential and essentially good for us, whatever one’s own definition. Driving this is the consumer who is looking to nourish the mind, recharge the body, enlighten the soul and return home well and balanced.