Wellness tourism to reach US$679bn by 2017

Above: The Sha Wellness clinci in Spain 

Wellness tourism is forecast to grow by 9.1% in the next four years, twice the rate of global tourism overall, according to research revealed at the Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) in India.
Currently valued at US$439billion (£273bn), the wellness tourism economy is driven by an ageing world population, struggling national health services and rising health care costs for the individual, according to non-profit research organisation SRI International’s Global Wellness Tourism Economy report. The market is estimated to reach US$679bn (£423bn) by 2017. 
The report, commissioned by and presented at the seventh annual GSWS – held in Delhi October 5-7 – also found that the typical wellness traveller is well educated, well off, middle-aged and Western, with travellers from Europe and North America driving the segment.
Five countries: the US, Germany, Japan, France and Austria, represent the majority, 63%, of the international wellness tourism market. Future wellness tourism is, however, predicted to be driven by consumers in Asia, South America and the Middle East. The US, France, Austria, Germany and Switzerland are the countries that presently see the highest number of inbound wellness travellers. 
Wellness tourism accounts for 6% and US$524million (£326m) of all domestic and international trips, generating 14% and US$439bn (£273bn) of global tourism expenditure.
The vast majority of wellness tourists, 87% are so called ‘secondary-purpose wellness travellers’, for whom wellness is part of but not the sole reason for travel. While secondary-purpose wellness travellers make up the overwhelming majority, this group spends less, on average US$680(£423) per trip, than ‘primary-purpose wellness travellers,’ for whom the equivalent figure is US$2,066 (£1,286) per trip. 
The spa tourism segment of the market grew by 11% between 2007 and 2012, from US$106bn (£66bn) in 2007 to US$180bn (£112bn) in 2012. A total of 225m domestic and international spa trips were made in 2012, up from 142m in 2007.