Asia Pacific at the forefront of Wellness Tourism growth

Segment worth an estimated US$252 billion

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Travel brands should be capitalising on the rising interest in wellness and luxury travel sectors across three key consumer archetypes, the latest Global Wellness Institute (GWI) report shows. Findings from the research, revealed this week at International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Asia Pacific, show wellness tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments in the wellness economy today, and APAC is the fastest growing market, expected to be valued at over US$250 billion.

Click the cover to view the electronic version of the study

Wellness trips now represent 6.5% of all tourism trips taken worldwide, growing a massive 15.3% annually to reach 830 million trips each year.

According to Cathy Feliciano-Chon, Managing Partner of CatchOn and the company that produced the report, China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia all clocked 20+% annual gains last year in the space and the market will essentially double from 2017–2022.

Feliciano-Chon explained: “Asian traditions and healing philosophies – from yoga, Ayurveda to traditional Chinese medicine’s concept of balance and energy – have influenced virtually every aspect of the wellness industry for several decades. Review any spa menu or retreat package in the world and you will inevitably find Asia’s influence. International travel brands, wherever they are in the world, should take this opportunity and be part of this dynamic region’s outbound travel.”

The research dives deeper into the GWI’s assessment of wellness tourism by recognising two types of wellness travellers: Primary and Secondary. Primary wellness travellers are those who see wellness as the main purpose of their trip and influence in choosing a destination. The second group see wellness as an add-on to the reason for their trip. Both types can be attributed to the same person taking different types of trips at different times. For every primary wellness trip taken in Asia, there are 13 more secondary wellness trips.

The three consumer archetypes include Female Travellers, Affluent New Agers and Chinese Millennial Millionaires. Traits of each are described as follows:

Female Travellers:

  • Women’s spending power is surging. From 2013-2023, the global incomes of women will grow from US$13 trillion to US$18 trillion.
  • Female travellers present the highest customer lifetime value because they engage in wellness travel over the longest amount of time.
  • For female travellers, it’s the guru that matters the most. Retreats are built around the cult of fitness and yoga celebrity instructors and life coaches.
  • Women are putting solo trips on their bucket list. Or more specifically, solo trips but in the company of others.
  • Wellness for women has gone beyond yoga and detoxes into hormonal imbalance and cellular aging.
  • There’s been a boom in women-only walking clubs in Australia and tours like Walk Japan, as well as self-imposed hiking trail challenges.

Affluent New Agers

  • A high concentration of wealth in Asia, combined with longer life expectancies, have made aging aspirational in Asia. Asians have the means to pursue wellness in earlier stages of life.
  • These luxury travellers want to achieve and maintain the quality of not only life, but also their lifestyle.
  • Affluent New Agers are still value conscious and are more demanding in ensuring they get the very best for their money.
  • New Agers are spending upwards of US$200k per trip.
  • Demand has driven some tour operators to create special packages that combine physical activity with luxury experiences.
  • Rising acceptance for LGBTQ+ in Asia creates the potential for brands to capture this growing audience.
  • Affluent New Agers are drivers for medical tourism.

Chinese Millennial Millionaires

  • China’s middle classes are growing exponentially, producing more millionaires and billionaires.
  • Wellness is the new status symbol among the 400-million Chinese millennials.
  • Health-conscious behaviours once associated with older generations are now embraced by millennials.
  • Wellness trends include:
    • Adventure, sports, educational courses
    • Weekend anti-stress getaways
    • Hidden all-inclusive resort locations
    • Retreats for spiritual pursuit
    • Action-packed itineraries
    • Off-the-beaten-track destinations and local immersions

The study, commissioned by ILTM and available to view here, involved 50 one-on-one interviews with travellers, luxury travel operators, spa consultants, travel journalists, wellness destination resorts and hospitality brands in Asia Pacific.

Lead image: Cathy Feliciano-Chon, Managing Partner of CatchOn (Image credit: ILTM Asia Pacific)

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