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Wellness Tourism: A Growing Trend for Health-Conscious Travelers

18 June 2013

Wellness tourism is a distinct branch of healthcare travel where people head overseas to engage in treatments designed to preserve their personal well-being or improve their health habits.  It is intended for anyone who is in search of authentic, often non-traditional therapies that may not be available to them locally.  The wellness-tourism experience does not involve physicians or medical clinics, but is delivered by therapists trained in integrated approaches to health maintenance in comfortable settings conducive to advancing one’s quality of life.

The idea of wellness tourism significantly increases the appeal of traveling for healthcare, which has generally been associated with “medical tourism” and its traditional types of treatments like cosmetic surgery, heart procedures, knee replacements, and dentistry, and it is increasingly viewed as a separate concept: whereas medical tourism is traveling with the intention of treating existing ailments, wellness tourism is about prevention and lifestyle improvements.

The key aspect of wellness tourism is the provision of alternative methods in order to attain harmony among body, mind, and spirit, and scores of vacationers are heading abroad for rejuvenating holidays and are achieving their goal by visiting medical spas and wellness centers that incorporate treatments that refine and restore health.  The means for achieving this highly sought-after balance between the three components of our human existence are numerous and specialized, and for people in the West, many of the world’s finest providers of this delicate approach to healthcare are found overseas.

Wellness tourism is popular in several Asian destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia, and all over Europe as well, where some of the more common treatments include things like therapeutic massage, detoxifying clay baths, balancing Ayurvedic treatments, and colonic cleansings.  Expertise and spirituality are often cited by wellness tourists as the reasons for traveling great distances for care, as therapists in wellness facilities have mastered the treatments they administer, and understand intrinsically the techniques they employ due to years of practice and preparation.

Wellness tourism has shown impressive growth over recent years, and there appears to be no slow-down in sight.  As the health tourism industry as a whole continues to proliferate, and as more information becomes available to the masses, the expectations are that people’s interest in the aforementioned procedures - plus many other wellness-center mainstays like homeopathy, acupressure, yoga, reflexology, meditation, aromatherapy, and hydrotherapy - will continue, and more likely, increase.  And, as more people recognize the opportunities that wellness tourism affords them for a sun-and-fun holiday plus alternative medical treatments all at once, the potential for it to become a mainstream type of travel is high.

Other factors contributing to consumers’ opting to become wellness tourists include significantly lower costs, greater availability of care and a wider selection of treatments, and the recent trend to travel with a higher purpose.  Wellness tourism is perfectly suited to “mindful” travel where the health-conscious among us seek natural remedies implemented to promote healing, prevent future illness, and of course deliver a certain measure of tranquility and stress relief.  Providing somatic, cerebral, and spiritual attunement, wellness tourism offers the best of both worlds for healing and rejuvenation, well-being and relaxation.

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