Continued growth for North American spa travel market

Above: Image courtesy of Sparkling Hill Resort 

The North American spa travel sector is continuing to expand, with 73% of travel agents in the US and Canada reporting an increase in spa property bookings in 2013, according to a new study. The figures underline the sustained strength of the market, with a lower 68% of travel agents noticing growth in 2012 and only 37% in 2011. 

The seventh annual State of Spa Travel survey, published by spa and wellness industry media and marketing company Spafinder Wellness 365, found the spa travel market to be a female-led sector, with the majority of bookings coming from women travelling together. 

One clear trend emerging from the survey is the beginning of a generational shift. The baby boomer generation – aged 49-68 – that has traditionally constituted the core spa clientele is still the number one customer group. However, the Generation X clientele, aged 36-45, is no longer far behind and is set to overtake the older group before long. 

Another trend emerging form the study, based on a survey of 300 travel agents across North America in the last quarter for 2013, is the growth of the wellness segment. While pampering remains the top priority for spa-goers, being important to 96% of clients, health and wellness programming is now key to 84%. 

Mia Kyricos, chief brand officer at Spafinder Wellness, said: “This new data proves that spa travel is on the rise in North America, which is the now the world’s largest wellness travel market, generating over 40% of the total dollars spent in that global segment.”

The deals culture within the industry is still going strong, with 32% of travel agents reporting that hotel and resort spas were more aggressive in their pricing and packages in 2013 than in 2012. 53% said there had been no change, while only 15% reported a decline in offers between 2012 and 2013. 

North American spa travellers are now exploring a wider part of the globe. Alongside traditionally popular destinations such as Mexico and Thailand, Costa Rica has emerged as new favourite with spa-focused travellers. 

Among other rising star destinations are Belize and Nicaragua in Central America, Chile and Argentina in South America, Croatia, Turkey and the Czech Republic in Europe, Cambodia, India and Myanmar in Asia and South Africa and the Seychelles in Africa.