The rising number of health-conscious people is contributing to heightened demand for wellness activities at popular travel destinations. According to Colliers, the Middle East’s wellness tourism sector has been growing in popularity in recent years. Indeed, recent findings by the Global Wellness Institute reveal that wellness tourism represents approximately 6 percent of the wellness economy in the Middle East and North Africa.
Greater demand for wellness tourism in the Middle East is driven by Gen Y and millennials’ interest in more wellness-focused experiences. Other segments, such as families and single travelers, have also demonstrated a need for wellness-themed recreational and leisure facilities — ranging from spas to all-inclusive retreats. This has led to increased activity in the industry in recent years.
The Dubai Fitness Challenge is an annual celebration of fitness and wellness. Now in its sixth year, the event’s goal is simple: complete 30 minutes of activity each day for 30 days. The aim is to inspire a fitness-focused mindset and encourage people to lead active lifestyles. With a month-long calendar of free workouts, exciting fitness events and wellness-centric entertainment, there’s plenty of motivation to kick-start a healthier way of life.
Trends in the region
According to Colliers Middle East, there are some key trends in the region’s tourism offering, including concept-driven wellness resorts, such as the Six Senses Zighy Bay, standalone spas and holistic destination retreats like Hatta, UAE.
Between 2019 and 2022, the number of wellness-oriented hospitality developments grew. Recent openings include Chivasom Zulal Doha and the Banyan Tree in Al Ula. While conceptually different, these two properties offer customized itineraries for guests. However, there are still gaps in the hospitality market that can be addressed by future wellness-oriented hospitality developments in the future.
Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and new Saudi airlines will dominate air travel and facilitate stopovers to regional wellness centers, bridging the gap between East and West. The region will thus continue to build wellness facilities to be a leading region for health-conscious travelers.
To meet the need for green spaces that engender wellbeing, city landscapes will evolve to feature vertical green walls and spas and hotels with farm areas. Indeed, travelers are seeking a greater sense of purpose, especially when it comes to their holiday choices. With this in mind, farms and wellness resorts where people can learn to grow and harvest fruits and vegetables are gaining popularity.
Spa treatments and mental health
It is clear that microbiome facial and body treatments will be in demand as time progresses, tying in with gut health and other important issues.
As per the global wellness summit report, whether it’s new bathhouses that feature hydrothermal bathing (saunas, steam rooms, pools, etc.), large-scale wellness-focused water resorts (some of which accommodate up to 8,000 visitors daily) or public parks where nature meets art and wellness, pandemic-weary cities around the globe are suddenly making the pursuit of health and well-being accessible, affordable and inclusive. This trend details how an urban bathhouse renaissance is underway, how urban sauna bathing is becoming sought after and playful, and how public “playgrounds” that merge nature and health are transforming cityscapes, with new manmade beachfronts, boardwalks, pop-up wellness classes and even water sports appearing in unexpected places, from New York to Tokyo.
Mental health is a hot topic these days, and integrating activities that promote a healthy mind and body will be key.
Travelers will spend more time searching for destinations that offer communal areas to bond with other like-minded people, meditation and sleep spaces, as well as psychological and healing services.
The theme of sustainability will gain momentum, with pandemic prevention at the forefront. Many hotels are dedicating valuable resources to green solutions, reducing single-use plastics and introducing washable and reusable fabrics, as well as air purification systems. Large hotel chains will be raising their game by having all-inclusive spas, which will be linked to hotel rooms. It which will be linked to hotel rooms. It is anticipated that these properties will fuse the medical aesthetics side with the traditional spa aspect, thereby delivering wellness services with non-invasive procedures, such as vitamin drips, directly to guest rooms. Having focused personalized trainers, nurses and health coaches to guide them throughout their journey, travelers will experience a different level of “luxury.”
European destinations like Paris, where the number of spa outlets per square meter is the highest in Europe, and Barcelona will start to attract the Gen Z and Gen Y tourists and have the spa concept at the heart of their itineraries.
The world of metaverse is likely to evolve outside traditional gaming and enter into medi spa/wellness territory. Wellness tech apps and tech fitness wearables are set to become more advanced, with AI playing a critical role in helping to personalize the guest’s journey by tapping into data and plugging it into real-life experiences.