Vacationer, heal thyself

Wellness tourism is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Here are 4 reasons you might want to be a part of it.

09 Oct 2019

Key takeaways

  • Wellness tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry set to grow 144% by 2022
  • Evidence shows that wellness vacations improve physical health and increase mental well-being
  • Partner with a wellness professional to set and achieve personalized goals, such as losing weight or improving self-esteem

If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy weight and body composition, you’re not alone. Nearly two billion people across the globe are overweight, 650 million of whom meet the criteria for obesity, according to the UBS Chief Investment Office (CIO).

Rapid urbanization is largely to blame, as it has led people to move less while consuming more calories. “Almost 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, according to UN estimates, and the urban lifestyle contributes to both of the primary causes of obesity: a more sedentary lifestyle and a more ‘Western’ diet that includes higher amounts of fat, sugar and protein,” says CIO analysts Lachlan Towart and Andreas Tomaschett.

As the problem worsens over the next decade and companies grow more proactive in responding to this epidemic, long-term investment opportunities—products and services geared toward obesity prevention and treatment—will continue to proliferate.

One industry that is focused on improving human health and happiness is wellness tourism, which the Global Wellness Institute1 claims is booming in 2019. It’s already a $639 billion market, but it’s expected to grow another 144% by 2022.

While most wellness retreats aren’t designed to improve a person’s physical fitness, the industry certainly promotes a healthier society. According to one study,2 a week-long stay at a rural health retreat can result in substantial improvements in body weight, blood pressure and psychological wellness.

Wellness vacations range from weekend stays at high-end spas to week-long retreats intended to help guests relax, recharge and refine themselves. Regardless of the venue, most wellness getaways feature a variety of health practitioners, from counselors and therapists to coaches and trainers. During their stay, attendees engage in activities like yoga classes, guided meditation sessions and tai chi lessons, among others. They can also book wellness treatments, many of which go beyond traditional massage, such as Reiki and acupuncture.

Wondering if you should book your own wellness trip? Here are four signs wellness tourism might be right for you.

1. You’re tired of coming home from vacation feeling gross

Between planning your trip, spending every minute of your vacation following a tightly packed schedule, overindulging in rich food and exotic drinks, and reserving too little time for sleep, vacations can be exhausting. By the time you get home, you might even feel worse than when you left.

In small doses, indulgence can be rejuvenating. But doing too much, too fast often has the opposite effect.

By contrast, centering your vacation on wellness activities can reduce your stress and produce lasting serenity. Meditating while on vacation, for example, has been found to improve your cellular health, helping you maintain a stress-free state of mind long after your trip is over.

2. You have a hard time disconnecting when on vacation

You set up your “out of office” auto-responder before leaving town, but the temptation to stay connected remains strong. If that sounds like you, a wellness retreat might be the answer.

Not only do wellness centers remove you from your daily routine and encourage you to disconnect—for example, by asking you to leave your phone turned off and stored away—they also immerse you in a relaxing and rejuvenating setting with a different kind of energy and pace. Instead of go, go, go, it’s slow, slow, slow.

3. You’re seeking a more meaningful, personalized experience

Whether you want to practice mindfulness, jump-start a healthier lifestyle or better yourself in some other way, you can find what you need in a wellness retreat.

Wellness professionals can help you set goals and create a personalized itinerary for your stay, whether you are solo or with your significant other. Some places even cater to couples, in the same way that ritzy couples’ beach resorts do.

Instead of a typical tourist experience, with a pre-determined agenda filled with scenic vistas, long lines and packed attractions, you can have a unique and purposeful experience that actually improves your health and well-being.

4. You have an aspect of your life you are trying to heal

Wellness retreats aren’t just about massages and aromatherapy. Most centers offer individual, couples and family counseling with a licensed therapist as well as one-on-one coaching and training.

If you need a chance to work through personal challenges, like low self-esteem or past traumas, or you’d simply like an opportunity to form healthier habits and improve your well-being, partner with a wellness professional. Not only can they help you heal and grow, but they can also help foster entirely new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

If you’ve got a holiday on the horizon, and you are going to spend the money either way, consider the difference a wellness retreat could make in your life. Attending to your health and well-being might be the best investment you make all year. 

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