Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

InsightThe spa and wellness industry has been one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in recent years. And a new report says the boom is exceeding even some of the rosiest predictions.

SRI International, in partnership with the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, has been measuring the industry annually for the last six years. They report wellness tourism grew to $494 billion in revenues last year, a 12.5% increase that’s above SRI’s original growth forecast of 9%.

The report released this week also shows the spa industry grew 58% from 2007 to 2013; in other words, from $60 billion to $94 billion. The number of spas around the globe increased 47%, to 105,591.

Jeri ClausingSRI’s report says wellness travel is growing nearly 50% faster than the global tourism overall and represents more than one in seven travel dollars spent worldwide.

“It has been six long years since our first spa industry research report, and to see nearly 60% growth across years marked by global financial collapse was as impressive as it was unexpected,” said Ophelia Yeung, senior consultant, Center for Science, Technology & Economic Development at SRI.

“Also exceeding our expectations," she said: "the growth in the wellness tourism market last year and the sheer scope of the thermal/mineral springs industry."

The report says the thermal/mineral springs industry is now a $50 billion market, spanning 26,847 properties across 103 countries. While the bulk of those facilities don’t offer spa services, the report says there is resurgence in this “millennia-old-but-hot-again” market and many countries are modernizing old facilities and investing billions in new springs-based resorts.

And for good reason. The report says that while springs with spa services represent only roughly a third of global establishments, in aggregate they earn nearly twice the revenue as springs without spa services: $32 billion vs. $18 billion annually.

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