Wellness tourism: a 1000-billion-dollar market by 2025
While the tourism sector is undergoing massive revenue losses, wellness destinations are growing. Spas should grow by 18% in 2025.
By Bettina Bush Mignanego06 janvier 2022
According to data by the WTO, the UN World Tourism Organization, 2021 was the worst year for tourism, with an expected loss of 2,000 billion dollars. Among the most affected countries in Europe, Spain has recorded -71% of international arrivals from January to August, followed by Italy with -61%, and France and Germany with less than 44% and 55%.
But in this sector on its knees, there remains some good news: wellness tourism is undergoing significant growth, accelerated by the pandemic.
In 2017 already, according to GWI (the Global Wellness Institute), wellness represented a global market of 564 billion euros. Before the pandemic, projections forecasted a 7.5% growth until 2022, with over 919 billion dollars in revenue by 2022. The GWI now expects this figure to drop to 816 billion dollars by 2022, and for it to surpass 1,000 billion dollars by 2025.
During pandemic times, it is however difficult to predict long-term forecasts, yet it is clear that health has become a predominant question in each and everyone’s life.
The spa sector is growing
Saturnia offers a unique location, with a warm water source which springs and produces a 500-litter flow rate per second, at a temperature of 37.5 degrees, after a long underground journey. It is a unique experience.
Antonello Del Regno, executive director of the five-star resort
Europe is one of the favorite destinations for wellness tourism. Over the last few years, according to a Global Wellness Institute report (GWI), the spa sector went from 44 billion euros in turnover in 2015, to 48.6 billion euros in 2017, turning out to be strongly concentrated in Pacific Asia and in Europe. In 2019, the global spa market even peaked at 64 billion dollars, before dropping to 39 billion in 2020 during the strongest phase of the pandemic. The GWI is expecting a renewed growth of 18% for the market and should reach 89.7 billion in 2025. Italy in particular is ranked at the 5th global position, capable of developing a market of 1.5 billion euros a year with no less than 768 thermal establishments.
Significant figures which Massimo Caputi, executive chairman of the investment venture Feidos, also chairman of Federterme explains: “The pandemic has reinforced a growing trend which we are noticing in Europe, including in Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and Italy. People want to live more and better; they prefer to invest in their own being rather than in goods.”
Investing in thermal resorts
Since 2017, Feidos and York Capital – an American investment fund -, have acquired the resorts of Saturnia, Chianciano, Salice, Monticello in Italy, and are expecting a significant investment in a city north of the country. In the peninsula, thermal resorts represent a unique natural heritage, thanks to their specific geological landscape.
Saturnia is even listed in the top 10 most beautiful spas worldwide (ranked 5th), while Uunartoq in Greenland, surrounded by icebergs and whales, is ranked number one. It is followed by Pamukkale in Turkey, which means cotton castle, and by Termas San Joaquin in Mexico. In Japan, the famous Onsen in the city of Beppu on the volcanic island of Kyushu and their thermal sources well-known for their red waters and high temperatures are particularly sought after.
Long story short, each destination has its own attributes and its specific history, and they their trend is now global due to their capacity to combine tourism and mental and physical well-being. “In Italy alone, over 300 million euros were invested recently in new spa acquisitions, underlines Massimo Caputi. We now need to refurbish them.” Feidos and its partners have already invested 50 million euros since 2017 and plan on investing the same amount over the next three years. “It is a sector that has been evolving. Since Roman times, they have been considered as an example of natural therapy, says Massimo Caputi, to feel good, prevent and cure in a soft approach, aspects which have now become fundamental in the life of any person.”
Antonello Del Regno, executive director of the five-star resort located at the heart of Maremma in Tuscany says: “Saturnia offers a unique location, with a warm water source which springs and produces a 500-litter flow rate per second, at a temperature of 37.5 degrees, after a long underground journey. It is a unique experience. We are also developing both a medical and aesthetical offer. Yoga classes, bamboo massages, cryotherapy are offered, and we organize visits with the iridologist Laura Quinti, who is famous for her capacity to rebalance the body thanks to natural medicine and nutrition.”
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