Wellness tourism is set to redefine the hospitality industry in India




Wellness tourism is set to redefine the hospitality industry in India


A viewpoint by Mr. Abhijit Dey, Managing Director, Starline Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.
Wellness tourism in India has steadily grown over the last few years. Industry experts predict that in the coming years India can become the global leader in the wellness sector. The Indian wellness market is expected to surpass USD 18 billion by 2018. Globally, wellness tourism accounted for 438.6 billion USD in 2012 and is expected to reach 679 billion USD
by next year.

For long, India has been recognised as the spiritual capital of the world, and from time-to-time travellers have flocked to our country in search of harmony and peace. Ayurveda and yoga are popular streams of well-being and continues to attract tourists from across the world.

However, earlier this market was a lot more unorganised. Also since spiritual well-being was a part of the offering, it was primarily restricted mostly to ashrams or yoga centres and didn’t form a part of mainstream tourism. But now we see things changing rapidly. The concept of wellbeing has undergone a transformation with more and more consumers becoming more educated about the benefits such programs offer. Let’s examine the factors that are driving the boom.

Wellness tourism emerging as a brand
The hospitality industry has made a conscious effort to create a separate brand for wellness tourism across the world. It now stands to attract a specific group of people who explore different places based on the spiritual and physical wellbeing programs being offered. This segment has a recurring desire to include more health and spiritual wellbeing into their current scheme of travel plans. To cater to this need the global industry is creating unique event based programs at several destinations. In India, Manthan Yogic Village for instance is a pure wellness retreat that hosts events like yoga festivals. Completely focussed on providing a balanced way of life, Manthan Yogic Village has authentic Ayurveda and yoga programs from detoxification, weight loss, mental wellbeing to specific ailment related treatments.

Traditional travel is giving way to experiential travel
Consumer behaviour is changing and their travel habits are evolving. Many people are opting out of the race to visit the most popular sightseeing destinations. They rather prefer to travel on unchartered roads, less frequented by people. They prefer places that are not crowded and are comparatively quieter than popular tourism spots. Such travellers seek experiences – a night under the stars at a desert camp or a trek through mangrove forest. Wellness travel is rising in popularity with such groups as well. They like to feel the calm of an early morning by the sea while performing yoga or experience an authentic Ayurveda massage in Goa or Kerala.

Travel for the health conscious
There is an increase in the number of health conscious people around the world. Most of them prefer to stick to their health regime during their holidays as well. For instance go to the fitness center, eat a healthy diet, swim in the evening, attend a yoga session and wrap up with meditation. Wellness tourism is a boon for such people. With a growth in wellness retreats guests can not only visit their favourite destination but also follow their regular fitness routine uninterrupted.

Side effects of a sedentary lifestyle
As the IT culture grows in India and the world around, an increasing number of people spend more than half of their days’ time glued to their work station. This is giving rise to several health issues. People complain of back pain and headache. Lack of physical exercise leads to weight gain. Erratic work hours lead to irregular food habits thereby causing several other issues. Hence, many people look forward to spend some time at wellness resorts where they can experience holistic rejuvenation – completely de-stress and detox with ayurvedic treatments and massages. With this, corporates have also become an important target segment for wellness retreats.

India is a high potential market for wellness
A growing number of people are embracing naturopathy therapies (natural process of healing) – a concept that originated in India. Hence not only domestic, but the demand for Indian wellness tourism is growing in international markets too. According to reports, the number of foreigners who visit India for medical and wellness tourism was expected to rise to 320 million in 2015 from 85 million in 2012.

The need for niche genuine treatments such as Panchakarma – a unique purification and detoxification therapy involving 5 steps namely Vamana, Virechana, Nasya, Basti and Raktamoskshana – is also becoming popular among both domestic and international guests.

The scope of wellness tourism in India is immense. Hotels need to start focusing on customising wellness experiences with on demand package offering to ensure guest preferences are completely met.