The World Health Organisation defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing; not merely the absence of diseases and infirmity. Realising this, there has been an increased growth in what’s now being called ‘wellness tourism’; people travelling abroad for a complete rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul. Wellness tourism has been expanding remarkably fast, and encompass yoga retreats and spa experiences, whilst also extending to fitness boot camps, agro-tourism and cycling vacations among others.
While US has a firm hold when it comes to the wellness market, recent years have seen other regions such as Europe, Asia and Canada growing to be as close as US in terms of market maturity. According to the 2013 Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report presented by the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, wellness tourism is projected to continue to grow on an average of 9.9% annually, reaching US $687.5 billion by 2017; nearly twice the growth rate of global tourism.
It is in this area that Asia has been gaining traction, thanks in part to its natural wonders and largely tropical climate. Emerging destinations for wellness tourism in the region include India, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
A melting pot of diverse cultures, Malaysia also happens to have a rich, colourful heritage of its own. This extends to its wellness and beauty treatments. Traditional Malay beauty practice places equal importance on internal beauty as it does external. To maintain a person’s internal beauty and general wellbeing, the country offers various herbal drinks, with each having special properties to promote good health. On the other hand, external beauty treatments largely includes detoxification processes and traditional Malay massages. What’s more, it is a common practice in the country to end these therapies with a bath, such as herbal baths for instance. Add to that the country’s dedicated wellness centres which offer organic food to complement these treatments, and are set against lush natural beauty and greenery, and you get a wholesome out-of-body experience that will leave you feeling fresh and rejuvenated.
Speaking of ancient Ayurvedic treatments, how about experiencing it in its truest form in its birthplace? The Indian government has been working hard at promoting its Ayurvedic treatments to health tourists, especially those from the West seeking wellness treatments. In fact, Kerala, is regarded as being the birthplace of Ayurveda, and has consequently gained popularity as the destination of choice for traditional Ayurvedic treatments. These treatments are wellness oriented, and leaves the person feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. As a bonus, these treatments are sometimes able to cure physical ailments too!
Philippines’ location near the Equator has endowed this humble Asian country with beautiful natural resources, offering wellness tourists a tropical paradise to unwind and rejuvenate in. Ingrained in the country’s long-standing tradition of wellness lies a myriad of healing practices aimed at easing the mind, body and soul. The most popular of which is the “Hilot”; an intuitive touch therapy that is customized to the needs of each individual. This therapy is done to remove energy imbalance and to provide the individual with a general state of wellness.