Countries with tourism shocks that capitalize on wellness tourism will see, on average, 170 percent more inbound wellness tourism trips than inbound trips overall from 2012-2017.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently held its annual Summit in Madrid under the theme of "Disruption & Reinvention." In conjunction with that conference, the Global Wellness Institute released data on how wellness tourism can help nations “reinvent” their inbound tourism markets after tourism “disruptions.”

The research looked at 10 diverse nations either rebuilding tourism after more recent crisis-driven events or those now busily building tourism markets after more historic problems.

Key finding: Nations using wellness tourism as a re-branding tool will drive, on average, 170 percent more inbound wellness tourism trips (19.5 percent yearly growth) than inbound trips in general (7.2 percent growth) from 2012-2107.

It is common sense countries that focus on their wellness assets, like in-nature experiences, indigenous healing traditions and wellness/spa retreats, cast a "healthy halo" that helps shift tourist perceptions from "a place of danger" to "a place of health and sanctuary." 

With political instability and climate change on the rise, more terrorist and natural disasters will likely decimate more countries' inbound tourism overnight.

In just the last month, for instance, Tunisia and Kenya have had devastating terrorism attacks. But Tunisia had an amazing 70 percent growth in inbound wellness tourism from 2012-2013 (vs. 3 percent for inbound tourism overall)—and Kenya had an astounding 450 percent rise in inbound wellness tourism (vs. 4 percent overall). Tracking how wellness tourism could help heal their tourism losses over the next couple years will be interesting.

Given our volatile world, this data begins to shines a light on why establishing a wellness tourism brand is both a preventative—and post-trauma—tourism strategy.

Read the full press release here

AuthorBeth McGroarty, Director of Research, GWI