Without a doubt, wellness has become an imperative in travel, tourism and hospitality and many recent consumer studies underscore this finding. Wellness is a key driver in travel decisions and the industry is heeding the call.

Just look at the hotel landscape today. If someone told me a decade ago that IV drips, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, “psycho-emotional clearing” and theraguns would eventually be hotel offerings, I would’ve wondered what happy pill they were on.

But given the demand for wellness in all forms accelerated by the pandemic, hotels are embracing their newfound roles as high temples of health and are creating programs and amenities to address sleep, menopause, longevity, mental issues, grief, immune support, sexual wellness and more.

The case for wellness in tourism is strong: the sector is growing faster than leisure tourism, with wellness tourists spending 41% more than the typical international tourist. And while wellness trips account for only 7.8% of all tourism trips, they represent a much higher 18.7% of all tourism expenditures.

Even airports, long associated with stressful experiences, are getting the wellness touch with meditation lounges, yoga rooms, walking trails and soothing sensory installations to take the edge off travel.

Wellness is also the lens through which cities and destinations are transforming themselves, rethinking urban density and how the built environment can promote more ephemeral qualities like happiness and social connections. Cities are placing a greater emphasis on creating more green spaces, public parks, and urban forests to provide opportunities for physical activity, relaxation, and connection with nature – all of which have proven wellness benefits.

There is also a push to make cities more walkable and bikeable, with expanded pedestrian infrastructure, bike lanes, and public transit options, encouraging residents and visitors to incorporate more physical activity into their daily routines.

Destinations have also jumped on the wellness bandwagon.

Costa Rica has positioned itself as a premier wellness tourism destination, offering an abundance of eco-lodges, yoga retreats, healing spas, and adventure activities that connect visitors with nature.

Singapore has made wellness a key priority, with initiatives like the “City in a Garden” program that integrates greenery throughout the urban landscape.

Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, leverages its abundance of geothermal resources to offer world-class spa and bathing experiences.

Bali has become renowned as a hub for yoga, meditation, and holistic healing, hosting countless retreats, workshops, and centers focused on mind-body wellness.

Bhutan, the small Himalayan kingdom, has built its tourism brand around the concept of “Gross National Happiness”, promoting a holistic, nature-based approach to wellbeing for visitors.

We are in the midst of wellness tourism’s explosive growth and it has proven to be an enduring travel trend that will continue to reshape the tourism industry.

By Catherine Feliciano Chon