Even before the Beatles went on their famous pilgrimage to Rishikesh with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1969, India has been a popular travel destination for American tourists seeking serenity and spiritual growth. But in recent years, wellness travel to India has exploded.
Mia Farrow, Steve Jobs, and Oprah are just a few of the many Westerners who have flocked to India for life-changing trips to visit meditation retreats and spiritual sites. Now, the southeast asian country is the fastest-growing wellness travel destination, with a projected 22 percent annual growth rate. In comparison, the United States — the leading country for wellness travel — has an average annual growth rate of 5.8 percent.
Wellness travel — any tourism associated with the goal of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal well-being — is now a $439 billion industry worldwide within the $3.2 trillion global tourism industry, representing 14 percent of all tourism spending. It’s estimated to have a trillion dollars worth of economic impact.
“As more people embrace overall healthier lifestyles at home, we are now seeing those behaviors translate and be integrated into their travel and vacation habits,” Susie Ellis, Chairman and CEO of the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, said in a statement. “For others, vacation provides an escape from the non-stop activities of their daily lives. As these two trends converge, we are seeing many people commit their vacation time and dollars to wellness travel, as evidenced by their increased spending and specific global destination choices.”
Spa experiences, healthy eating, opportunities for personal growth, yoga and meditation, fitness, stress reduction and holistic health are among the experiences sought by wellness travelers, according to the 2013 Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report.