Wellness Tourism Will Cross the $1 Trillion Mark in 2024

In the last year, as we emerged from the pandemic, survey after survey—whether from AMEX or Accenture—revealed that travelers were seeking wellness as never before. The GWI’s new report, Global Wellness Economy Monitor 2023, provides the first hard numbers to prove it, and the boom in the wellness tourism market is one of THE big stories in our new research.

If the global wellness tourism market was hit hard from 2019 to 2020 (plummeting from $720 billion to $351 billion), it has been the #1 growth leader among all 11 wellness markets since: clocking 36% annual growth between 2020 and 2022, to reach $651 billion (90% of its 2019 level). With more recovery ahead—and with what feels like a permanent shift towards “more wellness” with travelers—the GWI forecasts that the wellness tourism market will more than double from 2022 to 2027, with dramatic spending jumps from 2022 ($651 billion) to 2023 ($868 billion) to 2024 ($1 trillion) to 2027 (1.4 trillion). Its 16.6% annual growth rate over the next five years will make it the second biggest future growth leader among all wellness sectors, trailing only wellness real estate at 17.4%.

GWI’s new research on the wellness tourism market is packed with data, from the size of the top-20 national markets, to which global region is growing fastest, to how much the average wellness tourist now spends.

Wellness Tourism 2023: A Few More Numbers

Wellness tourism is growing significantly faster than tourism overall: Wellness tourism’s extraordinary 36% annual spending growth, and 30% annual wellness trip growth (from 2020 to 2022) is markedly higher than growth rates for overall tourism expenditures (28.4%) and trips (23.8%).

How much of the spend in travel is on wellness? Wellness trips now account for 7.8% of all tourism trips but represent a much higher 18.7% of all tourism expenditures. Translation: wellness tourism accounts for almost 1 in 5 total “travel dollars” spent.

Domestic wellness trips dominate: Wellness travelers made 819.4 million international and domestic wellness trips in 2022, a major increase over 2020 and 2021 levels. Among those 819 million annual wellness trips, international/inbound trips now account for only 12% (95 million trips), while domestic wellness trips account for 88% (725 million trips). But the global differences can be huge: in North America, only 4% of wellness trips are inbound/international, while in the Middle East-North Africa that number is 50%.

Wellness travelers spend far more than “regular” tourists: International wellness tourists on average spent $1,764 per trip—41% more than the typical international tourist. The spending premium for domestic wellness tourists is even higher, at 175% more than the average domestic tourist (or $668 per trip).

The top 5 biggest national wellness tourism markets are:
MARKET SIZE                                     ANNUAL GROWTH RATE 2020-2022

1) US                                  $256 billion                                                                32%

2) Germany                        $70.2 billion                                                               50%

3) France                            $35.5 billion                                                               36%

4) Austria                            $19.5 billion                                                               28%

5) Switzerland                     $17.7 billion                                                               37%

The United States now accounts for 24% of all wellness trips and 39% of all wellness tourism expenditures.

Wellness tourism is skyrocketing in Middle East-North Africa: MENA has been the #1 recent growth leader in wellness tourism spending, with 61.5% annual growth from 2020 to 2022. Average expenditures per trip have also grown the fastest in the MENA region, reaching $1,354 per wellness trip, which exceeds the level in North America.

Read the full chapter HERE.

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