A new research report from the Global Wellness Institute , “The Economic Impact of Wellness Travel on Small, Tourism-Dependent Countries” claims to be the first to measure the wellness economies of 150 nations, ranking countries by the annual, average consumer spend on wellness. The study helps explain why for some countries, the focus has moved away from promoting medical tourism to health and wellness tourism.
The research finds that in small, tourism dependent countries such as Aruba, Seychelles, Maldives, St Lucia and Costa Rica, wellness spending is mostly from international wellness tourists.
The study claims this is due to the tourism effect, where high-spending inbound wellness tourists represent a disproportionate part of the local wellness market results, leading to wellness representing a major part of these nations’ overall GDP.
When ranking countries by the ratio of the size of their wellness market to the size of their total economy, small, tourism-dependent countries jump out.
The top five countries on the percentage that the wellness market contributes to total GDP are Seychelles (16.5%), Maldives (14.5%), Aruba (11.9%), Costa Rica (11.4%), and St. Lucia (10%). This shows the sizeable contribution that wellness tourism brings to their economies, but also shows how in these countries wellness is more of an export industry and mostly out of reach for locals.
In small islands, a significant proportion of wellness spending comes from international tourists. Some places have substantial income from wellness tourists while local wellness spending remains low.
Wellness businesses including spas, wellness resorts and hot springs get both international and domestic business in countries such as Austria, USA, Iceland and Switzerland.