Ever since the pandemic hit the world, people all over the globe have reviewed their notion of what it means to be healthy. Amid the ubiquitous lockdowns, the inability to meet with friends and family, the seemingly impossible urge to change from sweatpants into a sharp-looking suit, the adult population of the planet realized just how important emotional and mental wellbeing is. This gave an additional spin to the already popular niche of wellness travel. Granted, travel was pretty much infeasible for most of us over the past two years, but as countries are slowly emerging from the depth of covid-19-wreaked havoc, consumers are getting their wallets ready to spend – and spend they will!
It became apparent to many that wellness is not just an indulgence but rather a necessity. And what is a better way to care for yourself than travel? In its Global Wellness Economy report released at the end of 2021, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) forecast wellness tourism’s annual growth rate from 2020–2025 at 21 percent. Another detail worth noting is that wellness travel is likely to outpace all other sectors of the overall wellness economy. So, what does it mean from the consumer perspective? Here we gathered some of the most interesting and, perhaps, unforeseen trends this year.
1. Animal Encounters
Is it really a coincidence that pet adoptions and purchases flew over the roof during the pandemic? We don’t think so! A seemingly insupportable number of restrictions made it obvious that many of us lacked social interactions – and this is when animals came to rescue! However, now that the world is slowly but surely coming back to its feet, owners are not ready to say bye to their beloved pets and are likely to bring them to the next vacation they go on.
Apart from this, wellness retreats that feature animal-supported therapies are gaining pace. Such activities have been shown to decrease blood pressure and levels of stress, heal trauma, improve self-esteem, and even instill a greater sense of purpose! Even though this field has become famous relatively recently (that goat-yoga class still got us smiling), animal-assisted therapy has been around since the late 19th century, according to HMP Global. Animals are increasingly being introduced into wellness retreat programs, with equine- and canine-assisted experiences being the most noteworthy.
2. Psychoactive Medicine
Wellness aficionados have long known and appreciated the healing properties of alternative medicine, however, psychoactives are still considered novelty even in that social circle, let alone the wider audience. Meanwhile, it seems their time has finally come. Increasingly, wellness programs are incorporating plant-derived indigenous therapies such as ayahuasca, peyote, or cannabis, as well as psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”). These remedies are said to aid in the treatment of psychological and emotional issues, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, and addiction, and are getting more and more popular by the day.
3. Permaculture Programs
As incredibly dualistic as human beings are, the notion of wanting two opposite things should probably be familiar to most of our readers. As such, being willing to be more social, while also seeking a lonely getaway is a natural state for many earthlings. Perhaps, this is why the idea of getting away from social media into the real world has gained such a following in recent years.
Permaculture programs are an excellent example of such a phenomenon. These experiences fulfill the traveler’s desire to taste authentic regional cuisine, participate in local traditions, and develop clean eating habits – all of which are often crucial parts of a wellness-inspired journey.
If you are looking for a source of inspiration, Hawaii’s Honaunau Farm can provide one. It functions as an integrated regenerative living model that engages with its guests in multiple ways: be it courses in permaculture, regenerative agriculture or medicinal plants, or services such as massage, hot tubs, saunas, yoga, and Qigong, everybody will find something suitable.
In general, it is evident that wellness is slowly (or maybe not so slowly) but steadily taking over our lives. Travel industry players should pay attention to the rise in the demand for wellness programs if they want to stay on top of their game. The coronavirus pandemic has changed our collective perception of the necessity of travel and what it means to care for yourself, and such a switch in attitudes will not wait to show itself in the consumers’ choices.