The Global Wellness Institute estimates wellness tourism is a $600+ billion global market, growing more than twice as fast as general tourism.

Growth has been driven by an expanding global middle class, growing consumer desire to adopt a wellness lifestyle, rising interest in experiential travel, and increasing affordability of flights and travel options. Across regions, Europe remains the destination for the largest number of wellness trips. The wellness tourism market includes two types of travellers:

- primary wellness travellers, who are motivated by wellness to take a trip or choose their destination based on its wellness offerings (e.g., someone visiting a wellness resort or participating in a yoga retreat);

- secondary wellness travellers, who seek to maintain wellness or engage in wellness activities during any kind of travel (e.g., someone who visits a gym, gets a massage, or prioritizes healthy food when they take a trip). The bulk of wellness tourism is done by secondary wellness travellers, who account for 89% of wellness tourism trips and 86% of expenditures in 2017.

Secondary wellness tourism also continues to grow at a faster rate than primary wellness tourism, at 10% compared to 8% annually, from 2015-2017.

Wellness, hospitality, tourism and travel businesses are converging. Relocation for an active and healthy lifestyle in a secure and passive environment is increasingly globally.

Since wellness tourism burst into mainstream consumer consciousness a few years ago, the industry has evolved

rapidly. Businesses and governments are investing in developing new strategies, products, experiences, and destinations.

Wellness, hospitality, and travel are converging in diverse and unprecedented ways, as businesses experiment with newpartnerships and business models to help travellers incorporate wellness into every aspect of their trips.

Wellness tourism creates opportunities for wellness and all tourism and hospitality-related businesses.

The $639.4 billion spent globally by wellness travellers is distributed among many segments of the tourism industry, from food and lodging, to activities, excursions, shopping, and other services. Within each segment, some expenditures may include wellness-focused activities (such as visiting a hot spring, getting a massage, or taking a meditation or fitness class), while other expenditures may be “generic” (such as transportation, general food and lodging, or buying souvenirs).

As more consumers incorporate wellness into their lifestyles, there are many opportunities for all businesses to infuse wellness into their offerings and capture spending by wellness travellers.

Wellness tourism will continue its growth momentum as more consumers adopt wellness as a key decision driver.

GWI projects that wellness tourism will grow at an average annual rate of 7.5% through 2022, considerably faster than the 6.4% annual growth forecasted for overall global tourism. They expect that global wellness tourism expenditures will reach over $919 billion in 2022, representing 18% of the global tourism market. Correspondingly, GWI project wellness tourism trips to grow by 8.1% annually to 1.2 billion trips in 2022.

This growth forecast is well-aligned with the expected growth across many sectors that focus on wellness and holistic health (e.g., fitness/mind-body, healthy eating, organic food, etc.), as more consumers adopt wellness as a dominant lifestyle value and decision driver.


Imagine going to your doctor and, instead of a prescription for some named or generic pharmaceutical, you instead receive a prescription for a 30-minute walk in nature. This is not actually that far-fetched. Put down the Prozac and pick up your walking shoes.

Paracelsus, the 16th-century German-Swiss physician, wrote: “The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician.” He could not have imagined the advent of the Smartphone, nor a 24/7, digitally enhanced, Instagram-able world. Much has been written about the evils (and glories) of technology, but the resulting dissociation from our natural surroundings leaves us emotionally and physically worse off. We are bereft of nature. Our bodies—and our minds—need nature. And there is hard science to prove it.

In fact, there is enough science about the health benefits of nature to get the attention of the medical profession. Nature as medicine. Just don’t tell the pharmaceutical companies. One contributing factor to this is the shifting demographics—people are living in urban areas, often with little or no nature. In 1950, around 30 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By 2018, that number was 55 percent, and, by 2050, it will be 68 percent. With this spread unevenly around the world (for example Northern America has 82 percent of its population living in urban areas already today!), it is clear that more people are living in settings with little—and sometimes no—nature.2 Not only has this resulted in a decrease in experiencing the joys of nature, but it has also meant that the healing power of nature is not readily available for most people in the world.

At his office in Washington, D.C., Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician, writes prescriptions for parks. He pulls out a prescription pad and scribbles instructions—which park his obese, diabetic, anxious or depressed patient should visit, on which days, and for how long—just as though he were prescribing medication.

The natural assets of the Algarve are the perfect environment for a 2020’s circular economy based upon the wellness global market trend and exploiting technology and innovation.

The region must adopt a sustainable development strategy, catalysing development andinvestment, driven by new market demand, the conference is going to explore the opportunities that exist for these ‘new’ markets.

UNWTO definitions:

Tourism (and travel) is an activity that can contribute to the creation or improvement of wellbeing.

Health tourism covers those types of tourism which have as a primary motivation, the contribution to physical, mental and/or spiritual health through medical and wellness-based activities which increase the capacity of individuals to satisfy their own needs and function better as individuals in their environment and society. Health tourism is the umbrella term for the subtypes: wellness tourism and medical tourism.

- Wellness tourism is a type of tourism activity which aims to improve and balance all of the main domains of

human life including physical, mental, emotional, occupational, intellectual and spiritual. The primary motivation for the wellness tourist is to engage in preventive, proactive, lifestyle enhancing activities such as fitness, healthy eating, relaxation, pampering and healing treatments.

- Medical tourism is a type of tourism activity which involves the use of evidence-based medical healing resources and services (both invasive and non-invasive). This may include diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention and rehabilitation.