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Leisure Insight – Shaping the Future

Leisure Insight - Shaping the Future 1
Lindsay Madden-Nadeau, Senior Director Wellness Strategy at Red Sea Global

Our Leisure Insight for this issue comes from Lindsay Madden-Nadeau, Senior Director Wellness Strategy at Red Sea Global, who takes us on a journey across the booming wellness tourism industry and highlights some new key trends making their mark in the sector.

The global wellness tourism industry is experiencing unprecedented growth. The sector is worth $651bn annually and according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), has a forecasted average annual expenditure growth of 16.6 per cent to 2027.

There are multiple factors driving this expansion, including greater awareness of health and wellbeing following COVID-19 and a continued resurgence of tourism activities post-pandemic.

There are also nine tourism trends propelling the sector forward and helping to shape its bright and blossoming future. Identified by the GWI Wellness Tourism Initiative, the trends highlight the industry’s dynamic evolution and how – as we seek solace and rejuvenation – environmental stewardship enhances personal well-being.

The Wellness Boom: Evolving Priorities and Emerging Trends
Increasingly, travellers expect destinations to prioritise sustainable and regenerative tourism, seeking transformative experiences unique to the regions they visit. There is a rising demand for family-oriented wellness programs that combine fun, education and personal development for families from around the world.

Another trend is the evolution of recovery: from sport to burnout. In the last four years, burnout offerings have become expected among many wellness travellers, helping them maintain their routines while away from home.

Given the rising prevalence of stress and sleep deprivation, sleep tourism is an emerging trend. Bespoke sleep clinics that focus on gut health, relaxation, exercise and mental coaching are gaining popularity.

While sleep tourism holds appeal for many wellness travellers, so too does the convergence of art and wellness. Destinations like Como Shambhala Estate in Bali and Miraval in Arizona blend the two and offer travellers enriching opportunities to reconnect with themselves and the world around them, balancing inspiration and rejuvenation.

This trend extends to the attractions industry, with art-centric activities and therapies, such as those by digital artist Refik Anadol, who combines media arts with architecture and data intelligence.

Mental wellness is also a significant trend, with retreats focusing on therapies such as yoga, meditation and even equine therapy to help guests achieve emotional and psychological balance, as seen at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in Australia and NIHI Sumba in Indonesia.
The exploration of wellness travel for men is rising, with destinations such as Eleven Experience’s Deplar Farm in Iceland offering off-grid adventure experiences with wellness components, such as Viking saunas and geothermal pools.

The menopause revolution is transforming wellness tourism, with retreats for women experiencing symptoms. Six Senses in Portugal’s Douro Valley offers bespoke programs combining therapeutic treatments, nutritional guidance and holistic wellness practices.
A boom in diagnostics reflects a growing preference for tailored and proactive health approaches among travellers. For example, Canyon Ranch in Tucson provides detailed health evaluations, including genetic testing and metabolic assessments, to create customised wellness plans.

Finally, indigenous healing offerings have gained prominence, with destinations like Wai Ariki Hot Springs in New Zealand incorporate indigenous practices, such as traditional massages and herbal remedies, into their wellness programs.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Wellness Tourism
These trends not only highlight the industry’s innovation but also underscore the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness that caters to diverse needs and preferences.

While the industry is rightfully embracing these wellness-oriented trends, we must remember that wellness is not just about the latest technology, the newest activity, or isolated acts of self-care. Wellness is a state of consciousness supported by how we treat ourselves and our surroundings.

That’s why considering the environment, using sustainable practices and focusing on regeneration aren’t just trends. They’re essential elements that can shape the way industry players design experiences, helping guests leave with a new perspective on wellness.
For instance, at The Red Sea, the first of three luxury tourism destinations developed by Red Sea Global, our regeneration efforts include mangrove planting, turtle rehabilitation and coral reproduction. These help to enhance biodiversity and provide essential habitats for diverse species, contributing to the overall health of our natural ecosystems.

The Intersection of Wellness and Sustainability
Wellness is constantly evolving, extending beyond physical and mental programs to include the spaces we inhabit, the design of our destinations and our interactions with natural ecosystems. But ultimately, wellness is a state of mind, supported by the actions one takes.
Active environmental participation is fundamental to achieving true wellness. By engaging in acts of service for the planet, we not only contribute to the health of our environment but also nurture our own well-being. This harmonious relationship between personal wellness and environmental stewardship underscores the importance of consciousness in every aspect of our wellness journey.

We have a unique opportunity to start with a clean slate, embracing future trends, modern science and ancient traditions of well-being to create a comprehensive offering that caters to all guests and abilities.