Wellness is now seen as a $4.2 trillion business globally, of which $369 billion equates to actual wellness tourism, a segment said to be growing by 14% annually and twice as much as tourism generally. Delegates were also told wellness guests spend 53% more than others when in hotels.
ILTM undertook research of its own to understand traveller behaviour in relation to wellness and found 73% of guests to have “spontaneously taken part” in some element of wellness, with 42% of respondents overall saying they wanted to repeat wellness-oriented experiences again on holiday.
But the research also found travel agents were “last on the list” when it came to resources travellers looked to for inspiration and assistance on wellness travel, providing a new opportunity for agents to develop.
During the show, delegates were encouraged to visit The Retreat, a new wellness area developed with Six Senses, and to take part in a hour of “voga” – yoga and voguing.
Alison Gilmore, ILTM portfolio director, said: “Today’s travel brands are at the epicentre of an exciting new ecosystem and no other industry is better placed to capture this explosion of need [for better wellbeing].”
Speaking at the opening forum, Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones – a research project into longevity – said hoteliers needed to think of wellness across entire properties, not just in the spa.
“Within hotels, you could actually get the guest to eat a low-sugar, more plant-based diet, minimise junk food, vending and unhealthy minibar snacks, and then nudge them into more mindless movement, with staircases and longer routes, or provide local walking maps, as well as offering social spaces and community opportunities and helping them with a sense of purpose, or involvement in local activities,” he said.
This year’s was the biggest ILTM event ever, with 5,000 attendees, including 1,880 exhibitors from 101 countries, up by 8.5% year on year.
Event organisers Reed said in response to exhibitor feedback from last year, the number of buyers from the UK had increased, with an additional 20% in attendance.