Wellness tourism is travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one's well-being and can include healthy living, rejuvenation and relaxation, meaning and connection, authentic experiences, as well as disease prevention and management. Representing a $4.2 trillion (USD) market in 2017, according to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness economy grew 12.8% between 2015-2017.
As the population ages, our lives become increasingly hectic, stress from our modern lifestyle is inescapable, and we see a growing incidence of disease, wellness tourism is a way to bring a level of balance and well-being into our lives. Wellness tourism is an opportunity that tourism businesses can leverage by incorporating wellness into experience design.
Wellness goes beyond yoga and meditation retreats and is more than just physical exercise or nutrition. It can integrate seven different dimensions: social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, physical, environmental and occupational. This provides tourism operators with a wide variety of ways that wellness can be incorporated into a visitor experience.
For operators looking to take advantage of this growing sector, the Wellness Tourism Association is an excellent place to start. The organization was created to provide a voice for the industry and shape its future. Prominent tour operators such as G Adventures have stepped into the wellness tourism market in a big way creating a variety of wellness tours that ‘offer the perfect balance of awe-inspiring destinations, rejuvenating activities and healthy foot experiences.'
However, wellness isn't just for the big guns. Many small businesses have grown successfully around wellness, or by integrating wellness as part of what they do. The award-winning Grail Springs in Ontario is built on an ‘unwavering devotion to personal growth and planetary transformation’ through ‘an integrative approach to healing mind, body and spirit.' Northern Edge Algonquin has built its business around wellness and a driving mission ‘to provide experiences in nature that help us rediscover ourselves, empower one another, and heal our connection to the earth.' Cassiar Cannery in northern British Columbia extended its traditional peak season by offering Women’s Retreats that combine outdoor cultural activities, with healthy food, learning workshops and spa treatments in a fun, relaxed and tranquil environment.
With the breadth of the wellness sector and all it encompasses, opportunity abounds for tourism businesses that want to leverage this growing segment. What might you be able to do to enhance the wellness aspects of your existing offers, or where might new experience opportunities lie for your business to attract a different traveller type?
 Global Wellness Institute. (2018, Oct). Wellness now a $4.2 trillion global industry: with 12.8% growth 2015-2017. Retrieved from: https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/press-room/press-releases/wellness-now-a-4-2-trillion-global-industry/
 University of California, Riverside. (2014). Seven dimensions of wellness. Retrieved from https://wellness.ucr.edu/seven_dimensions.html