Health Travel

How the idea of wellness is expanding beyond spas & infinity pools

Thanks to rising stress levels in individuals, on par with awareness levels, wellness tourism today is a trillion-dollar industry. Temporary escapes to wellness destinations and retreats have become long-awaited breaks from the fast-paced, high-pressure lives we lead, made even more so with the unprecedented ways in which technology controls our lives. Given these factors, market growth, driven by people’s constant need to disconnect, reset and start anew, is far from surprising.

A USD 4.2 trillion industry in 2017, worldwide wellness industry had USD 639 billion dedicated to wellness tourism alone during the same year, according to Global Wellness Institute. The perspectives on wellness have now expanded beyond the ideas of fancy spas and an infinity pools, and is now being looked at as wholesome experiences that explore the healing aspects of physical treatments, spirituality, cuisine and even art.

Wellness is now being integrated into every aspect of our daily lives, be it work, travel, leisure, or healthcare, changing the way in which these services are being perceived and consumed. In this regard, Dubai’s growth to become a unique travel destination for today’s health-conscious travelers can be attributed to the emirate being home to an array of world-class spas, wellness centres, and health facilities.

Accounting for 14 per cent of the MENA spa market, the UAE also leads the Middle Eastern wellness tourism market.  Wellness tourism contributes almost 12 on 13 per cent of the UAE’s tourism industry, which is worth around USD 36 billion. Another major shift in the wellness tourism pattern is that tourists are no longer seeking just spa services, but are also keen on exploring other holistic health and rejuvenation treatments such as Ayurveda, authentic Middle Eastern spa, yoga therapies, beauty traditions such as ‘hammam,’ in addition to cosmetic procedures such as anti-aging therapies.

A 5,000-year old tradition known as the science of life, Ayurveda can be best defined as a way of living based on how foods, herbs, emotions, climate and lifestyle affect the dynamics of our own physiology and psychology. According to this science, the imbalance of bio-energy principles, also known as three humours or ‘Tridoshas’ Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, leads to diseases. Hence, Ayurveda treatments are aimed at restoring the balance of these humours.

Treatments for skin, face and eye rejuvenation are also seeing many takers, thanks to services offered by a large number of highly qualified wellness centres, spas and specially trained staff who offer personalized care to tourists. Furthermore, the recent introduction of regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the Emirates Hospital Jumeirah, gives us a glimpse of what the future of the sector might look like.

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