The non-profit Global Wellness Institute (GWI) defines wellness tourism as “travel associated with the quest to maintain or improve personal well-being. Wellness tourism is travel to maintain or improve a person's health through spiritual, physical and psychological activities. Some tourists may participate in well-being-related activities as part of a trip, while others travel just for wellness. According to tourism advocates, vacations increase physical well-being, happiness and productivity by providing travelers with new perspectives and positively affecting creativity, adaptability, worry, and stress management.
The following are some aspects of the trend in wellness tourism. Wellness tourism refers to travel for health and wellness reasons. Wellness tourism is travel for the purpose of promoting health and well-being through physical, psychological or spiritual activities. Over time, some secondary wellness travelers will decide to take a primary wellness trip, as they increase their interest in and experience with wellness.
There is a misconception that wellness travelers are a small, elite, and wealthy group of leisure tourists who visit destination spas, health centers, or yoga and meditation retreats. Latin America and the Caribbean is the fourth largest region for wellness tourism in terms of amount of travel and expenses. Wellness tourism trips include a variety of activities such as hot springs, day spa and hotel spa, thalassotherapy and exercise. But, in general, the types of visitors, activities, services, businesses and regulations involved are very different between medical tourism and wellness tourism, even though they may share a dependence on a region's basic tourism and hospitality infrastructure and services.
The most demanding and sophisticated wellness travelers, especially millennials, are interested in what the destination offers that is different from somewhere else. Secondary wellness tourism is when tourists generally incorporate some aspect of well-being (for example, a massage on the beach during an all-inclusive Mexican vacation) into their vacation. Sometime between the advent of the “summer body” and the use of gym clothes for brunch, health and fitness transformed from an annual concern to a full lifestyle that never takes vacations. Iceland is a beautiful destination and it also offers many wellness tourism activities.
Wellness tourism is also a source of income for hotels and other facilities that offer these services. Spas and hotels in Turkey and Hungary cater to wellness tourists, many of whom are subsidized by host countries, such as Norway and Denmark, who seek to mitigate the costs of medical procedures for chronically ill patients who require costly surgeries. There is some overlap between medical tourism and wellness tourism, for example, DNA tests or executive check-ups. Wellness tourists travel to improve or maintain their health and quality of life, while medical tourists travel to receive treatment for a diagnosed condition.
We measure wellness tourism by aggregating the travel expenses of people who define themselves as wellness tourists.