A guide to current and emerging wellness travel trends | Wellness Tourism Trends

Innovativeness in wellness travel is picking up. You have more escape routes to get your mind and body fully invigorated. Even if not under stress, wellness travel of any kind can infuse freshness to enjoy a better quality life. The good news is that emerging trends in wellness travel have the potential to meet the wellness needs of everybody.

GWI reports, global wellness tourism is growing at a much faster pace of 6.5% annually more than twice that of conventional tourism growing at 3.2%. The forecast – the growth rate will accelerate to 7.5% through 2022.

What is wellness tourism?

Wellness tourism is one of the earliest forms of healing that has been taking place for centuries. In the olden days, those that could afford it would make long distance trips to engage in traditional practices in hopes of improving their wellbeing. Ancient Greeks and Romans used to travel to thermal springs and spiritual temples as they believed it bettered their health.

In more modern times, wellness tourism is the process of a traveller seeking a journey specifically in order to improve or promote their health and wellbeing. The tourist will stay in a particular destination where they will be provided with various health-promoting physical activity, relaxation methods, and nutritious food in a comprehensive package. With the increase in individuals actively seeking out to better their health, there has been a burgeoning growth in the wellness tourism industry. This has led to several holistic centers, spas, wellness retreats, spiritual pilgrimages and other form of healthy therapies setting up shop to bring in foreign, health-seeking people.

In short, wellness tourism can be defined as a form of travel to enhance health and well-being through various physical, psychological and spiritual activities to make mind and body act in sync.

Underlying principles of wellness tourism

programs of treatment

The concept of wellness is made up four key underlying principles:

  1. Wellness is holistic and multi-dimensional.
  2. All research and practice associated with wellness should be on identifying ways to promote health rather than causes of disease
  3. Wellness aims to restore balance and homeostasis of the body
  4. Wellness is subjective to each individual requiring customized programs of treatment for each person. For the most effective wellness treatments, all aspects of the body must be accounted for—including physical, emotional and psychological symptoms.

Wellness tourism facts

on wellness trip

  • A whopping 586 million wellness trips are taken every year.
  • Wellness tourism occupies 15% of global travel just next to cultural tourism
  • Wellness tourists spend 130% more than average tourists.
  • Secondary wellness travelers contribute more than 80% expenditure in wellness trips and associated activities.
  • Nearly 17 million travelers project themselves to be health and wellness focused with 40% of them taking regular trips.
  • More than half of the global business workforce has been experiencing a steady rise in workplace stress creating the demand for wellness tourism.
  • Consumers are more aware of wellness travel
  • Europe, Asia and Latin America are the popular wellness travel hotspots. 

Popular complementary and alternative medicines practiced in wellness tourism

complementary and alternative medicines

Linking leisure, lifestyle and wellness tourism

Reiki healing

The wellness is linked with the words like, leisure, physical activities and health. Wellness is a derivation of the wellbeing concept and the state of being well and feeling comfortable. On the other hand, fitness means suitability, ability and health and can be interpreted as ‘feeling comfortable, wellbeing and healthy.

We can define wellness as the balanced state of mind, body and spirit. It includes the holistic aspects, such as self-responsibility, physical fitness, beauty care, healthy nutrition, relaxation, mental activity and environmental sensitivity. It is also viewed as way of life that aims to create a sound body and mind through acquired knowledge and positive interventions.

Tourism, as the expression of the modern time leisure industry, recognizes the needs of the modern man and adjusts to them. The previously popular emphasis on medical tourism has been replaced with the new trend, named as wellness and recreation tourism. The quality of wellness tourism products depends on two factors, i.e. offers diversity and potential and personalized services.

Changes in the technology have revolutionized work in ways that are revolutionizing the rest of life, customizing every individual’s life in the process. Leisure has become even more standardize from seeking treatment to tourism. Wellness tourism has been emerged as the luxury travel recent days.

The purpose of the wellness tourism is to promote healthy lifestyles through leisure. As people become more skeptical about traditional forms of medicine or therapy and they are turning to alternative sources of wellness, such as popular psychology.

People, especially celebrities indulge in expensive beauty treatments or surgeries and more healthy trends have lead to a growing awareness of the close links between diet, exercise and wellness. Wellness helps people to improve their lifestyle, eating habits and much more so that they can live a healthier life. Health and wellbeing, healthy eating habits, emotional health and physical activities are the crucial parts of wellness equation.

This is the reason why wellness tourism is growing as an international trend for the people who are seeking to enhance their wellbeing by traveling across the globe.

Emerging trends making wellness travel even more interesting 

Death Positive retreats:

Death Positive retreats

As the world gears up to embrace death in a positive manner through ‘death positive’ movement, the trend for death positive vacations is also picking up. Coping up with the grief of loss from death is not easy as most of the sufferers remain in the denial mode for long.

Death Positive Retreats help in accepting death in a healthy way offering sessions of counseling, meditation, yoga, hiking, healing massages and other natural activities transforming the mental attitude and philosophy of the sufferer. Retreats held amidst natural ambience holds the key to fast healing of the sorrowed soul.

Going back to the wild

Going back to the wild

Urban concrete jungle is making you claustrophobic. No breathing space but enhanced noise and stress. To get out of this, going back to the wild is the only way. Wilderness retreats or holidays offering a great package of nature, healthy food, rest and exercise to refocus mind, body and soul are set to be one of the biggest wellness travel trends in the coming years. It could be a 7-8 night Detox program or an absolutely relaxing holiday without any curated schedule.

Healing with sound

Healing with sound

Healing with Tibetan Sound balls is the in-thing in wellness travel. Meditation with vibration sound bowls has been an age-old Tibetan practice common among monks but now it has come to the forefront of wellness travel trends. Wellness resorts set amidst quaint nature include Tibetan healing with sound where guests undergo several meditation sessions while different sounds are churned up from the Tibetan sound balls. Monks or practitioners use special metallic bowls and a small wooden stick to create different kinds of sounds. This is followed by massages and personal training.

Soft Wellness Retreats

families and friends are experiencing transformative wellness

Travel for wellness is evolving beyond solo remote resort visits in the quest of transformational experience. Right now, the trend is ‘togetherness in wellness’. A surge is soft wellness is being observed where couples, families and friends are experiencing transformative wellness together through various activities like meditation, trekking, hiking and all.

Your partner, family members or your friend may need self-healing which can be achieved in conjunction with spending some precious time with each other. Soft wellness retreat is not only about making up the deficiency but making your life more fulfilling with love and togetherness.

Male mental health

Male mental health

Wellness holiday bookings by men aged 45-70 years have increased dramatically since the last decade. This is quite obvious as 1 in 8 men is likely to suffer from depression and 1 in five will face anxiety at some point in their lives.

Although most wellness spas and resorts are designed catering to the female wellness needs, the time has come to make special arrangements for men’s wellness needs as well right from male-specific wellness programs, personalized nutrition to other body and mind-boosting activities.  Male-focused wellness holidays give an opportunity in lifestyle overhauling and reconnect in a safe and healthy environment.

Sabbatical wellness holidays

healthy nutrition

To be off the grid totally might not be possible for all given the hardbound professional commitments. But don’t they deserve a wellness break? Sabbatical wellness getaways provide the right answer where you can spend 1-2 weeks amidst relaxation, healthy nutrition and workouts along with a few hours of tech access to meet your professional commitments.

You will be in touch despite being out of touch. Wellness resorts are designing their programs where people can indulge in long term wellness programs and continue to work as well. This helps them embrace the transformed lifestyle without much difficulty after coming back to their normal routine.

Genetic profiling retreat

saliva testing

Which diet is right for me? All of us get overwhelmed at this question. Keto, vegan or Paleo – we do not have the right answer. This year, expect to see a rise in wellness program booking offering genetic profiling test, the test that helps you in creating the right diet for you.

Just by testing your saliva, the experts can say which food is right for you and which is not. Such wellness retreats are likely to have exercising, meditation and other holistic approaches for mind-body health as other features.

Taking the road less travelled and finding new destinations

sustainable tourism

Overtourism is upsetting the balance putting a strain on the local resources. Crowded places may not help you in your wellness objectives. Another rising wellness trend is to seek healthier destinations; places that are less trafficked or promoting sustainable tourism where travelers can get the taste of unique experience by exploring local culture and natural landscape. In this manner, new destinations are getting placed on the travelers’ map creating new prospects of wellness travel.

Nature Immersion Gateways:

Nature Immersion Gateways

Nature is the best healer of pains and stress has been scientifically proven. However, urbanization has robbed much of the nature factor from our lives. Nature trails, hiking, walking along creeks and water bodies and forest bathing Shinrin Yoku) are more demanded in wellness travel. You not only get a fresh dose of Vitamin D but also detox your mind and body. Glamping (glamorous camping), a popular feature in wellness travel gives a complete nature immersion experience and is poised to be a $1 billion industry by 2024 reports Mindbodygreen.

Preventative wellness:

run short of wellness

Despite healthy eating and frequent exercising, we run short of wellness thanks to our over-reliance on stimulants, unhealthy beverages and fast-paced lifestyle. We are unable to provide the required downtime of our body and mind.

Preventative wellness retreats assess the health risk factors and provide guests with valuable tips and tools to maintain a well-balanced life nullifying the effect of stimulant-induced environment.

Active Lifestyle retreats:

Active Lifestyle retreats

This is an even more interesting wellness travel trend helping people to come out of the sedentary lifestyle. The retreats seem to be shouting wellness changing the perspective people normally have towards travel.

These retreats incorporate small daily-to-perform activities that will go a long way in upholding wellness.  Guests come across a diverse range of activity-oriented experiences that may have not been considered.



If there can be honeymoons, why not painmoons? Recovering from personal loss, grief or break up needs special space and place. Painmoons give that environment where it considers your feelings and allows your emotions to flow naturally without any social taboo. Quaint places or wellness retreats create special coping up ambience allowing you to take care of yourself and put efforts to get back your mental happiness and overall wellbeing.

Divorce retreats:


Getting over from separation is not easy. One door has closed and you should try to open another. Calming down the rage, fury, bitterness and all negative emotional flows need a suitable environment too. Divorce retreats are occupying space in wellness travel guiding participants with a range of stress management techniques, emotional healing therapies and life coaching services.

Tough and transformative wellness


Feeling lazy or losing drive and motivation? Tough and transformative wellness experience may give you the required push. Travelers are embracing this emerging wellness trend by indulging in endorphin-inducing activities like kayaking, paragliding, mountain trekking etc.

These are being considered as tools to experience a transformative wellness bringing back the motivation. Many hotels and retreats are offering a mix of luxury spas and transformative wellness experiences helping you to relax as well as taking you to the root of the underlying problems that you may be facing.

Wellness mumcations

solo travel gives you the chance to recharge your worn out cells.

Modern mums need to realize that taking a wellness break leavings kiddies and family responsibilities at home is good for them and their families. Although, this emerging trend in wellness travel is yet to pick up, given the benefits of freeing own selves from nappy-changing and baby- feeding sessions for “me time” is a healthy choice.

A brief wellness break of this sort be it an all-women trip or solo travel gives you the chance to recharge your worn out cells. These breaks allow you to get the desired sleep time as you wish and the freedom from round-the-clock commitments bringing back the enthusiasm of life. Kids would also love to see a happier and livelier mum.

Menopause retreats


Menopause, a natural event in a woman’s life brings a host of physiological and emotional problems that are hard to battle. Neither she nor the family members are fully aware of menopause-related issues. Women find it hard to accept that they are aging and perceive it as the end of life’s bliss.

Women prefer taking a wellness break in menopause retreats away from home to find a fruitful solution to mood swings, emotional surges, hot flushes and other physical issues with wellness experts. The retreats guide with the advanced relaxation techniques and coping mechanisms along with taking care of the nutritional needs to instill the confidence of enjoying a blissful life even at this phase of life.

Sugar Detox:

Sugar Detox

Is the sugar only in brown and white?  What about its camouflaged form in a number of foods that we consume daily?  Sugar detox is the next in thing in many high-end wellness spas and retreats that not only cuts your unwanted calorie consumption but also helps in reducing your craving.

They also make you savvy to spot the hidden sugar in food items that regularly feature in our kitchen shelves. Sugar Detox breaks promise clear skin, increased energy and a well running digestive system.

Sleep performance trips

frequent sleep disturbance at night

Astonishingly, 35% of Brits have problems in sleeping. An estimated 50-70 million adults have some form of sleep disorder. Whether it is anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, sleep apnea, frequent sleep disturbance at night, your quality of life suffers and your productivity dips.

More people will be taking sleep performance trips in special wellness retreats to enhance the quality and duration of sleep. These retreats offer a holistic approach to improve sleep by tweaking lifestyle and providing effective sleep tips to help in maintaining sleep quality.

Tech Detox

Tech Detox

Tech devices have gripped us thoroughly. Hardly do we take our eyes off the blue screen. The addiction is eroding our wellness. TV, laptops, tabs and smart devices – life is totally dependent on them. Another emerging trend in wellness travel is to get completely detached from tech devices.

No calls, no push notifications, no email or message pings. Life can be absolutely peaceful. A growing number of retreats and resort chains are offering Tech Detox programs where tech devices are not allowed. They help you in overcoming screen attachment guiding you towards smart time investment.

The New Middle-Aged Generation

generation is eager to invest more in wellness and health

The middle aged generation in the age group of 50-70 is stepping out more for wellness travel. To them, half of the life left need to be spent well. The generation is eager to invest more in wellness and health. While aging cannot be reversed, the pace can be reduced. Wellness retreats are designing men-specific programs for the middle-aged class planning a new life after 60.

Fertility trips


Fertility trip is the in thing in wellness travel. Maintaining physical and emotional health is conducive to conception.  Partners planning to have a baby are taking up wellness travel to enhance their fertility factor that would help in conception.

The healthy ambience of destinations and retreats enhances fertility factors placing the couple in the most favorable condition for conception. Apart from this, fertility wellness trips help in modifying nutritional needs, arranging for mild workouts, improving sleep, reducing stress and maintaining optimum weight.

Silence retreats

Silence retreats

Noise is one of the biggest spoilers of wellness. Not only the mechanical noise but digital cacophony is no less disturbing. Maintaining absolute silence and tranquility gives clear vision to our lives. Maintaining silence has been practiced since centuries that helped in building mindfulness.

Silence retreats where absolute silence prevails are being chosen by wellness travelers. All service person and staff maintain absolute silence and guests are guided to follow a wellness schedule amidst it.

Immunity boosting retreats

Marbella Club Spain

Image Source : marbellaclub.com

The Covid 19 pandemic has forced us to rethink wellness travel. Now, the time is to give top priority to immunity boosting than any other aspect of wellness. And what would be a better way than to look for immunity boosting wellness retreats that would reboot our mind and body the way it needs. Expect advanced guidance from expert nutritionists, physicians and trainers to get into your post-pandemic wellness journey. Popular wellness resorts and destinations namely Marbella Club Spain, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland, Shanti Maurice Mauritius, etc. are focusing on immunity-boosting wellness programs.  Leading travel companies like Thomas Cook are reaching out to customers with attractive immunity-boosting packages offered in different wellness resorts.

Sexual wellness retreats


Sexual wellness is getting redefined with growing openness towards various forms of sexuality and respective sexual needs. People are eager to set mindful sexual connections for healthy physical and emotional balance. Traveling for sexual well being is picking up. Sex and intimacy retreats for couples and singles are catering to various sexual wellness needs through curated programs that would renew or deepen the erotic connection. Retreats offer various wellness-enhancing programs right from sex counseling, sex education to yoga, mindfulness, massage, healthy nutrition, de-stressing programs and even hands-on body work by experts. IntimacyMoon Barbados, Kim Anami Retreats, Bali & Mexico, Wild Tantra Path of Reawakening, Netherlands, 31 Day Intimate Transformation Intensive Retreat, Thailand, are few of the notable retreats.

Healthier flights to occupy airspace

flying phobia

No more polluted interiors or questionable menu. Passengers of long haul flights would finally receive a range of wellness treatments. Many reputed airlines are arranging for guided meditation session with Headspace, reduce flying phobia finally allowing you a peaceful sleep aboard.

Noteworthy sleep promoting innovations include noise-cancellation headphone, smart sleep masks adjusting light waves matching the brain wanes to minimize jetlag. Some airlines are planning to include herbal teas and probiotic-infused juices in their menu to prevent jet lags of passengers. Calorie content of other foods is likely to be reduced significantly. Chef-curated healthy meals would also décor the platter of business class passengers.

Wellness-centric hotels to follow up with your wellness

special culinary skills

Your quest for wellness should not end when you are back. It needs to be prolonged. Many hotels are providing follow up wellness services even after they head towards home after vacation. Hotels are partnering with different service providers to teach special culinary skills to the travelers which they can continue at home as well.

Cookbooks are offered to facilitate healthy eating. Wellness Gurus teaches the guests some long-lasting wellness habits and lifestyle tweaks to maintain low-stress levels even when they are back to their normal life track.

Budgeting apps to fulfill the wellness travel dreams:

Acorns app

Wellness is permeating to people of all categories. Lack of smart financial planning often restricts commoners to pursue their wellness travel dreams. More travelers than ever before are using digital banking tools to save for their wellness vacations. In a significant emerging trend in wellness travel, there is a growth in the use of apps like Mint, Acorns, Qapital etc. that help in easy tracking of travel fund.

7 Popular wellness travel trends that continue to occupy the hot seat

Wellness travel has become an integral part of everyone’s lifestyle today. Almost every other individual opts for a regular holiday in a wellness retreat that would help him/her rejuvenate his/her body, mind and soul. With the industry all set to grow in the next couple of years, here are 7 wellness trends one would need to look out for in 2015.

Mindfulness and stress reduction take front seat

A recent survey has revealed that over 90% of individuals who opt for wellness trips, do so to relax their minds and reduce the stress their bodies accumulate over a period of time. Most consumers of wellness tourism have been noted to seek out destinations that offer them mental relaxation and restoration. Hence, they tend to seek out places that offer a combination of meditation, qigong, yoga and journaling, etc. that would help them retain their emotional equilibrium.

Personal enrichment is more sought after

wellness tourism benefits

Most individuals who travel these days tend to look out for destinations that offer more than just a fun filled holiday. These clients focus more on destinations that offer programs aimed at personal enrichment in order to foster a positive change in their lives. As a result, we would be able to see a number of similar retreats popping up everywhere in the coming years.

Spa on arrival in demand

Wellness vacations

Gone are the days when hotels and resorts used to offer spas as add-on services/packages. Increase in wellness tourism has prompted more of these hotels to start offering complimentary wellness treatments for arriving guests. In addition to this trend, we would also be seeing the rise of airport spas that help travelers relax while waiting for their next flight. We would also likely see the rise of more services related to seeking spa on arrival doing the rounds in the near future.

Increase in wellness travel agents

getting started for wellness

Until a few years ago, the term Wellness Travel was hardly recognized let alone understood. However, with more people starting to understand the benefits of wellness travel, the number of agents catering to these trips has risen dramatically. Terms like Wellness travel agent or specialist are no longer considered strange today as more and more consumers and industry professionals have started accepting these agents as well as giving them credibility for their work.

Rise of food tourism

Another trend that seems to have taken off thanks to wellness travel is food tourism. More and more individuals are opting to travel to foreign locations in order to learn the native cooking and eating habits of these places. Right from attending cooking classes to gaining an in-depth knowledge of the local agriculture, these individuals seem to benefit a lot from this trend as they use is to attain social, emotional and sustainable wellbeing.

Acceptance of wellness traditions from the Islamic world

Health spas

One cannot hide the fact that countries from the Middle East offer some of the best wellness treatments in the world. Infusing a beautiful blend of natural beauty and healing practices along with advanced foods as medicine, the wellness possibilities in these regions are countless. As such, we will probably start to see a lot of people flocking to these destinations for various wellness treatments and therapies.

Growth of Voluntourism

CAM therapy

Wellness tourism has given rise to another form of travel called ‘Voluntourism’. This trend involves affluent travelers getting in touch with wellness agents to reach out to those destinations that offer wellness treatments and therapies. However, an added feature of this trend is that these individuals would also ask the agents to look out for local communities and charitable causes in the destination where they can volunteer to help while vacationing.

Wellness tourism has been on the rise for quite some time now. It has also given rise to some trends which will only gain more prominence in the coming years.

Dr Prem Jagyasi and Team (C)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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