by Andrea Doyle | October 10, 2018
The global wellness industry grew 12.8 percent in the last two years, from $3.7 trillion in 2015 to $4.2 trillion in 2017, according to a recent report from the Global Wellness Economy Monitor released by the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute (GWI). The report was unveiled at the 12th annual Global Wellness Summit in Cesena, Italy, which attracted more than 630 industry leaders from 50 nations. 

Wellness tourism, in particular, has grown 6.5 percent, from $563 billion to $639 billion. The $639 billion wellness travel market's annual growth rate of 6.5 percent from 2015 to 2017 is more than double the growth rate for tourism overall (3.2 percent). 

There were 830 million wellness trips taken in 2017, 139 million more than in 2015, and these trips now represent 17 percent of total tourism expenditures. Wellness tourism growth is robust in developing markets -- Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean, Middle East-North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are all clocking gain -- and accounts for 57 percent of the increase in wellness trips since 2015. 

Over the past five years, Asia has had the most significant increase in both wellness tourism trips and revenues: Trips grew 33 percent in two years, to $258 million annually. China and India rank number one and number two for growth worldwide, adding over 12 million and 17 million wellness trips respectively from 2015-2017.

"Once upon a time, our contact with wellness was occasional: we went to the gym or got a massage. But this is changing fast: a wellness mindset is starting to permeate the global consumer consciousness, affecting people's daily decision-making -- whether food purchases, a focus on mental wellness and reducing stress, incorporating movement into daily life, environmental consciousness, or their yearning for connection and happiness," said Katherine Johnston, senior research fellow, GWI. "Wellness for more people is evolving from rarely to daily, from episodic to essential, from a luxury to a dominant lifestyle value. And that profound shift is driving powerful growth."

It is predicted that wellness tourism will grow 7.5 percent by 2022 to a $919 billion industry. 

"In the face of longer lifespans, and rising chronic disease, stress and unhappiness, we only see growth for wellness ahead," said Ophelia Yeung, a senior research fellow at GWI.