The GWI’s recent “Global Spa & Wellness Economy Monitor” found that wellness tourism is growing at roughly twice the clip of tourism in general (13% vs. 7% annually) – making it one of the fastest growing travel categories on Earth.

The GWI research makes the crucial distinction between “primary” wellness tourists (where wellness is the motivating factor for the trip/destination) and the “secondary” variety (where wellness experiences happen as part of a trip with a different, main purpose).          

Most people may not realize just how much “secondary” wellness tourism dominates – for both number of trips and total category revenues. Eighty-seven percent of trips and 84 percent of expenditures come from secondary wellness tourism, whether it’s that business traveler who takes on-site yoga classes at a “healthy hotel,” or that person who slips in a massage at a family reunion.

And domestic wellness tourism also heavily dominates over international, representing 84 percent of wellness travel trips and two-thirds of spending. That’s because more people generally travel domestically than abroad (especially in large countries like the U.S., China, Russia or India), and because domestic trips can be shorter (i.e., weekend getaways) people can take in a little much-needed ”wellness” more often and affordably.

The lesson: any wellness tourism stakeholder (whether a Minister of Tourism, or a hotel or spa) should never overlook the secondary or domestic tourist if they want to prosper!

AuthorBeth McGroarty, Director of Research, GWI