Travel with a purpose is on the rise. The last few years have seen a growing realisation of health and wellness as people seek to infuse their hectic lives with mental, physical and spiritual balance. Wellness is about quality of life – in finding the balance between the physical, mental and emotional well-being of everyday life. For more and more people around the world, wellness has become an aspiration as they incorporate elements of health, prevention, self- actualisation, experience and mindfulness into their lives – which also extends while on holiday.
Sri Lanka Tourism has strategically studied this segment of travel and recognises that this growing global travel trend, with 78% of affluent travellers seeking to include some elements of wellness in their travels, has tremendous potential. It is evident that the meaning of wellness has evolved beyond yoga retreats and spa treatments, wellness now is anything that brings balance to ones being, be it a walk through a forest, swimming with giant turtles, plucking your own tea or learning to make authentic local cuisine. Wellness is now considered largely experiential and the Sri Lankan Tourism product is positioned perfectly to curate authentic wellness experiences with the ability to differentiate our offering from regional rivals.
In 2017 the wellness industry was valued at US$639 billion globally and this figure is expected to increase to US$919 billion by 2022 (Source: Global Wellness Institute). The global pandemic has only accelerated this trend further as more people seek to be in harmony with nature.
Wellness Tourism is a niche area of travel which transcends across different target audiences; Gen Z, Gen X, the Millennials and baby boomers. The motivation for each audience may vary, some seek it as an escape from their busy lifestyle while others may seek it as a way in which to re-connect with themselves. Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage supports the balance of mind, spirit and body, and this philosophy is an integral part of this island and its people, creating the perfect foundation to attract the various segments within this market.
With the wellness traveler generating at least five times more earnings than the standard tourist, Sri Lanka Tourism is strategically working with key stakeholders to position the destination to cater to the demands of this high yielding segment. With the assistance of external experts, the Authorities are focusing on product and infrastructure development, training and guidance to the SME sector and the larger industry, targeted marketing and promoting investor opportunities.
With its Ayurveda and yoga traditions, rich heritage and culture, authentic and distinctive cuisine, warm and hospitable people, abundant flora and fauna and a multitude of water-based activities the island is ideally positioned to welcome the wellness traveler. Sri Lanka will have to compete with regional wellness destinations such as Kerala and Bali, destinations that have been focusing on health and treatment-based experiences for many years. The island can however elevate its offering above health to holistic wellness enabling the differentiation of product to appeal to the various segments of travellers within the sphere of Wellness Tourism.