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GSS Research Finds $106 Billion Wellness Tourism Market Held Back by Conceptual Confusion: With Exclusive Commentary from Susie Ellis About What This Means for the Spa Industry

Posted: September 15, 2011

Following this news item, Susie Ellis, Global Spa Summit board member and founder of SpaFinder explains what this research means to the spa industry.

The Global Spa Summit (GSS) today released key findings from its research initiative “Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism: Where Do Spas Fit?”—a comprehensive investigation of the wellness tourism and medical tourism industries. The 100-plus-page report contains an overview of existing definitions; industry data and organizational and promotional models underway worldwide; 12 national case studies; results from a survey of 200+ industry stakeholders; and recommendations for governments and businesses going forward.

Key findings

“This report should be read by every tourism board, spa and medical facility worldwide,” noted Susie Ellis, GSS board member. “Medical tourists and wellness tourists spend three to five times more than the average tourist, and the financial opportunities within both these sectors are vast. This research will help public and private players establish smarter overall strategies, organizational structures and marketing campaigns to more powerfully position themselves within these lucrative markets.”

Key roadblock: Conceptual confusion

The growth of wellness tourism and medical tourism are being stymied by inconsistent, confusing terminology and conceptual intermingling. The survey of 200+ executives reveals a dramatic lack of consensus around definitions/concepts, even among industry players.


Key roadblock: Weak or generic promotion

Combining case study data (a global cross-section of national approaches: Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand), with the survey results, reveals that governmental promotion of these tourisms is often nonexistent, inconsistent or “unbranded.”