SPA and wellness market: how much is this business worth?

Wellness economy sectors have recovered and surpassed pre-pandemic levels. This is according to the Global Wellness Institute, based on an extensive survey conducted from January to September 2023.

The Wellness Economy comprises all industrial/tertiary sectors associated with activities and lifestyles pertaining the ‘wellness world’. The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has carried out a survey in this field, classifying and analysing 11 different indicators: from the SPA world to the thermal world, from tourism to specialised construction, wellness at work, etc. An analysis covering 218 countries.

Wellness demand after the pandemic: what has changed

Much has been made of how the pandemic has disrupted the development of the wellness industry in the short term. However, there are some interesting data that point to important changes in the long-term growth opportunities for the sector. Awareness of the many factors that influence health has increased and more stakeholders are involved than in the past.

Over the next five years, analysts predict that the global wellness economy will grow at a sustained rate of 8.6% per year. This is a very significant figure as it is higher than the projected growth of global GDP (5.1% IMF forecast).

The welfare economy is projected to close at nearly $6.3 trillion in 2023, rising to $8.5 trillion in 2027.

Well-being figures in the world

Let’s start with “Wellness Tourism” defined as travelling to improve or maintain personal wellbeing (the indicator combines all tourist expenditure related to such a trip). After reaching a peak of $720.4 billion in 2019, spending fell sharply due to the pandemic. Today, although we have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, wellness tourism remains the fourth largest sector of the wellness economy (11.6% of total global expenditure). An important fact also emerges: wellness travellers are wealthier, have travelled extensively and are willing to spend more than others on travel experiences, services and amenities that support their choices. The United States leads the top twenty countries, followed by Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Japan and Italy in seventh place.

Another interesting indicator for us is the world of SPA. These facilities promote wellness through therapeutic and professional services for the body, mind, and spirit. Since SPA and wellness tourism entered the mainstream consumerism trends, the sector has rapidly evolved. There is increasing investment in the development of new strategies, products, experiences, and destinations.
Wellness, hospitality, and travel are converging in new and unprecedented ways, leading to the experimentation of new business models to satisfy the needs of increasingly informed and demanding travellers. As consumers continue to incorporate wellness into their lifestyles, companies are investing more in integrating it into their offerings to capture the spend of travellers interested in “wellness tourism”.

In 2022, the SPA industry showed signs of recovery after being hard hit by the early stages of the pandemic. According to GWI estimates, there were 181,175 SPAs operating worldwide, generating revenues of USD 104.5 billion. Currently, North America and the Middle East-North Africa have recovered and surpassed pre-pandemic levels. The SPA/thermal industry is mainly concentrated in Europe, Asia, and North America. Europe alone has the largest regional SPA/thermal market, both in terms of revenue ($41 billion in 2022) and number of spas (63,194).

What are the future plans? Territorial marketing is expected to become more authentic and local. It is worth noting that the spa industry has experienced significant growth in marketing and development, particularly in countries with well-established spa traditions, with Europe leading the way. Recent data indicates that the SPA and wellness sector has promising development projections on a global scale. Since the post-pandemic recovery, the wellness economy has grown rapidly, and the SPA sector is among the leading industries.

Let’s now move on to thermal and mineral springs. This sector comprises establishments that generate revenue by using water with specific properties (thermal, mineral, marine) for therapeutic or recreational purposes. Currently, there are 31,290 thermal establishments operating in 130 countries, which generated USD 46.3 billion in revenue in 2022. Asia Pacific and Europe together account for 94% of the industry’s revenues and 93% of the operating establishments. It is important to note that there are currently at least 42 new projects that have already commenced in 2023, with over 200 projects in the start-up phase. The countries with the highest concentration of investments and openings are China, Japan, the United States, Hungary, France, Russia, Turkey, Australia, Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Tunisia.

GWI analysed another indicator, which is healthy food, nutrition, and weight loss. The related items include spending on products that improve health and wellness, vitamins/food supplements, diet products, and body weight reduction services. This sector has grown steadily in recent years, reaching USD 1,079.3 billion in 2022. Today it is the second largest item in the wellness economy (personal and beauty care is in pole position). The United States has the highest spending per capita, three times as much as Europe. However, data collected by GWI show that the highest growth rates in the period 2020 – 2022 are in Latin America-Caribbean and Middle East-North Africa.

As mentioned previously, personal care and beauty, which includes spending on hygiene and care of the body, face, skin, hair, and nails, represents the largest sector in the wellness economy, with a value of USD 1,088.7 billion in 2022. North America is the largest market, both in terms of size (USD 335.5 billion) and per capita spending (USD 901). It is followed by Latin America-Caribbean, North America, and North East Central Africa, which have the highest growth rates in the 2020-2022 period.

Spending on physical activity associated with sports, leisure and recreation centres was the focus of the analysis. According to GWI estimates, physical activity accounted for 17.4% of total spending in the global wellness economy in 2022. The majority of spending on physical activity, over 91%, occurs in North America, Asia Pacific, and Europe. Italy ranks 11th in terms of spending.

Another indicator analysed was mental wellbeing, which includes expenditure related to improving sleep space, nutraceuticals that stimulate the brain, self-improvement, and meditation. According to the GWI Report, global spending on mental wellbeing reached USD 180.5 billion in 2022, up from USD 130.2 billion in 2019. The period between 2019 and 2022 saw substantial expansion in many countries, including the US, China, Canada, the UK, France, Mexico, and Turkey. Italy ranked ninth in terms of spending on mental wellbeing.

Another indicator is expenditure on traditional and complementary medicine, which is generally not considered part of conventional medicine or the prevailing healthcare system. According to GWI, this accounts for 9.2% of the entire global wellness economy. Many of these medical practices, such as acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and chiropractic, have origins in specific regions but are now widely practiced worldwide. The largest markets for these practices are in Asia Pacific and Europe, with traditional Chinese medicine in China, ayurveda in India, and naturopathy/balneotherapy in Germany, among others.

Finally, this section looks at public health, prevention and personalised medicine: public health and medical services are used to treat people, prevent disease or identify risk factors. According to GWI, this sector is estimated to generate USD 610.9 billion in 2022. Personalised medicine is a rapidly growing segment that deserves attention. The United States accounts for 36% of total spending in this sector. The United States accounts for 36% of total spending in this sector.

The analysis of the Real Estate industry focuses on spending on the introduction of wellness elements in residential, hospitality, and commercial buildings. According to GWI estimates, wellness buildings currently represent approximately 3% of global annual building output.

Discussing workplace wellness, which refers to the spending by employers on services, activities, and equipment that enhance employee health and well-being, the global market for this sector amounts $50.6 billion in 2022. North America and Europe collectively account for three-quarters of this market, with Germany, Japan, the UK, France, South Korea, and Italy following in seventh place.

Source: “Global Wellness Institute, Global Wellness Economy Monitor 2023, November 2023