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By Beth McGroarty, Director of Research, Global Wellness Institute

The GWI’s recent “Global Spa & Wellness Economy Barometer” found that while the top five countries for wellness tourism (1. U.S.; 2. Germany; 3. France; 4. Japan; and 5. Austria) still drive more than half of this half-billion-dollar category’s revenues, their global market share has dropped from 63% in 2012 to 59% in 2013.

Why? Because developing nations worldwide (with some standout nations in Asia and the Middle East/North Africa) are growing fastest now. For instance, measured in terms of wellness travel trips (combining domestic and international), China and India joined the ranks of the top five globally for the first time in 2013.

GWI’s research identified some of the fastest-growing countries for wellness tourism of late—combining both pure percentage growth in trips, and total trips added. (Note: This is just a snapshot of some standout nations for trip growth, but many more exist…)

A Few Wellness Tourism Trip Growth Leaders (2012-2013) – Ranked by % Growth

While pure trip percentage growth is presented here, larger, more established wellness tourism markets like the U.S. added a higher volume of trips (7.2 million)—because smaller, developing countries are building on a smaller base. India ranks #1 worldwide for wellness tourism trips added: 11.6 million year-over-year, with aggressive promotion of its Ayurvedic and yoga traditions paying big dividends. And just look at that 770% growth for Vietnam and 382% spike for Indonesia…smaller bases but massive momentum.

2 thoughts on “East Meets West…or Maybe It’s the Other Way Around”

  1. Interesting to see this "West to East" shift now occurring in the wellness tourism sector, echoing the similar trend we saw with international medical travel. Over the last ten years, the US and EU both suffered drops in growth rates of inbound medical travel, while healthcare destinations such as Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and Turkey have experienced significant growth. Good news for wellness consumers seeking a broader and deeper range of options. Good news also for a budding industry that can benefit from shared global best practices.

  2. I have a girlfriend who is in Vietnam right now on vacation. Forty five years ago if someone had told me that people would be going to Vietnam for vacations, I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. Perhaps in the future some of us will go for a pleasure trip to Afghanistan or maybe take a vacation to rejuvenate in Iraq? Mind boggling as to how the world changes. I think the chart above that ranks countries in terms of percentage of growth in wellness tourism is eye-opening. Glad that the Global Wellness Institute is doing so much research.

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