In 2017, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) estimated that there were 34,057 thermal/mineral springs establishments operating in 127 countries. These businesses earned $56.2 billion in revenues in 2017, and they employed an estimated 1.8 million workers.
The majority of thermal/mineral establishments around the world are rustic and traditional bathing and swimming facilities. They target their local markets and charge relatively low admission fees. About a quarter of the establishments are higher-end, targeting tourists and offering value-added spa services. Those that offer spa services account for a much greater share of industry revenues (66%) and also experienced higher revenue growth (7.4% average annual growth versus 0.5% for those without spa services, over 2015–2017).
The thermal/mineral springs industry is heavily concentrated in Asia-Pacific and Europe, reflecting the centuries-old history of water-based healing and relaxation in these two regions. Together, Asia-Pacific and Europe accounted for 95% of industry revenues and 94% of establishments in 2017.
Thermal/mineral springs bathing experiences appeal to a growing segment of consumers seeking to connect with nature, experience cultural traditions, and pursue alternative modalities for healing, rehabilitation and prevention. Responding to these trends, both private investors and governments across many countries are investing in the sector. In countries with long-established thermal bathing traditions, governments are increasingly promoting these as a key wellness tourism offering. They are investing in renovation and reopening of primitive, outdated, and closed-down facilities, as well as upgrading service standards and training to meet the expectations of international tourists.
Thermal/Mineral Springs Defined:
GWI defines the thermal/mineral springs industry as encompassing revenue-earning business establishments associated with the wellness, recreational and therapeutic uses of waters with special properties. GWI’s figures count thermal/mineral springs establishments that operate as a business, and as such, do not include springs that do not have any built facilities and/or do not charge any kind of fee for access. Establishments that use heated water—not naturally sourced thermal/mineral water—are also excluded from this category. There are many categories and types of thermal/mineral springs establishments, as illustrated below:
Our revenue estimates include all revenues earned by the establishments in the above categories (not just revenues from thermal/mineral-water bathing and treatments). Therefore, our estimates include revenues earned from bathing/swimming offerings, spa/wellness services and other treatments, other recreational activities, food and beverage, lodging, and other services offered by the establishment.
For more information:
GWI’s thermal/mineral springs figures are updated and released every few years in the Global Wellness Economy Monitor. For the most recent data and research, see GWI Wellness Industry Reports & Publications.