Wellness tourism is expected to continue its rapid growth rate.

Wellness is a $4.2 trillion industry that has seen 12 percent growth over the past five years, and is poised to see similar gains this year. And the fastest-growing segments of the industry include the “spa economy” and “wellness tourism,” according to data from the Global Wellness Institute.

The global wellness industry is composed of personal care and beauty — generating more than $1 trillion in annual sales; nutrition and healthy eating at $702 billion; fitness/mind and body with $595 billion; wellness tourism at $639 billion, and the spa economy at $119 billion, among other smaller segments.

It’s big business, and the GWI noted that total wellness expenditures “are now more than half as large as total global health expenditures ($7.3 trillion)” and represents about 5.3 percent of total global economic output. Driving much of the growth is wellness tourism, which is clocking year-over-year gains of 6.5 percent — twice that of the tourism industry.

“And it’s forecast to grow even faster through 2022 (7.5 percent annually) to reach $919 billion,” the GWI said in a recent report. “North America drives the most wellness tourism revenues ($242 billion annually) and Europe the most wellness trips (292 million) — but Asia-Pacific is the eye-opening growth leader, with wellness trips growing a whopping 33 percent in the last two years.”

Researchers at the institute said China and India rank first and second in growth of wellness trips, respectively.

Katherine Johnston and Ophelia Yeung, GWI senior researchers, noted that wellness tourism “burst into the consumer consciousness just a very few years ago, and it’s hard to grasp the speed of its growth and evolution.”

Part of the acceleration of the segment’s growth is the convergence of wellness with hospitality and travel — “from the ‘healthy hotel’ concept going utterly mainstream to airports, airlines and cruises injecting so much wellness programming, to the profusion of ever-more-creative wellness destinations, retreats and tours,” the researchers said.

Later this month, the GWI is hosting a press in New York in collaboration with the Good Housekeeping Institute and Good Housekeeping magazine to reveal the latest “wellness research and trends.”

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