Wellness is not just a lifestyle choice, it’s big business. The Global Wellness Summit stated that the industry is worth USD 4.2 trillion globally, a growth of over 12% YOY. In Asia-Pacific, the corporate wellness market alone is expected to reach USD 7.4 billion by the end of 2024, a growth rate of 9%, and Asia has been the number one growth sector in both wellness tourism trips and revenues for each of the last five years.
The Next Level of Wellness
The time has arrived for luxury travel brands to move beyond simple concepts of a gym and a spa, to rebrand, reconstruct and reposition their offering as a destination for holistic wellness. Luxury hospitality or travel brand needs to be at the forefront of this vital industry or risk being ignored by luxury travellers who have sky-high expectations.
An APAC-wide insight report by Reuter: Intelligence, the leader in luxury insights & research, has been created in partnership with ILTM, the luxury travel business event specialists. Mindstyle: The Next Generation of Health & Wellness Travel, discovered that health & wellness is top of mind in diverse areas of daily life.
This excerpt from the report looks at medical tourism: find the full report here.
Blending Medical Health and Travel
Medical tourism is expensive, meaning that a ‘luxury care’ angle has always been attached. APAC accounted for the largest share (40 percent) of the global medical tourism market, and it was expected to see an 11.1 percent growth in its healthcare sector in 2018 with a market size of USD 517 Billion.
The region is keen on medical tourism that combines the old and the new, AKA ‘holistic approaches’ that couple ancient principles of Ayurvedic or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), for example, with the latest in modern technological innovations, such as CACI non-surgical facial lifting and age-defying cryotherapy. With TCM officially recognised by the World Health Organisation in December 2018, the sector is expected to see growth outside of China.
One of the places excelling in holisticism includes Chiva-Som in Thailand, while Amanpuri’s Holistic Wellness Centre offers integrative medical services, such as live blood analysis and laser and radiofrequency therapy alongside acupuncture and Ayurvedic treatments.
The Farm at San Benito has resident integrative medical doctors prescribing treatments for detox, pain control, acute and chronic diseases alongside plant-based vegan foods, mindfulness, fitness and luxurious spa treatments.
Hospital and Resort ‘Complexes’
High-end healthcare centres are now designed as more humanised, multi-functional and experiential to patients, so as to let them relax and enjoy during their treatments.
Singapore is leading the private healthcare sector across the APAC region – one example of this is Connexion. It’s an integrated healthcare and hospitality complex developed by The Farrer Park Company, combines the 220-bed facility hospital with its hospitality component, the 243-room One Farrer Hotel & Spa, in its West wing. Its East wing assembles various medical centres offering specialist treatment, health screening and preventive medicine. Patients there can also be immersed in luxurious indulgence such as a Zen garden on the rooftop and an extensive menu of tailored nutrition.
South Korea is another hot destination for medical tourism, as a reported 452,380 foreign visitors went there for medical purposes in 2016. The nation is also well-known for its ‘medical fringe’ treatments, for example, Jeju Island specialises in nature surrounds and ‘healing and wellness offerings’ to attract luxury health-conscious travellers.
Meanwhile in Japan, clinics and hospitals are starting to look less clinical. For example, Seijo Kinoshita (Green) Hospital in Tokyo, completed last year, is anchored by a lush, landscaped courtyard, with wooden, organically-shaped furnishings and rooms that wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury hotel.
The global infertility treatment market reached USD 1.5 Billion in 2018, and Asia is expected to be the next leading market for fertility tourism due to the loosened restriction of China’s birth policy. China reportedly has over 40 million patients with fertility problems, supported by the figure that Chinese couples spent RMB 7.4 Billion (USD 1.1 Billion) on overseas fertility treatments in 2016. The US and Canada are the most favoured destinations among these Chinese parents-to-be, for higher quality pre- and post- pregnancy caring and more importantly for benefits like birthright citizenships to Chinese babies.
Meanwhile, reproductive institutes from Asia are also making efforts to attract Chinese birth travelers; Malaysia has the highest success rate of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) treatment in the world, at 65 percent, compared to the world’s average at 50 percent. TRIA, a luxury spa in Bangkok, Thailand now provides wellness treatments designed to help couples naturally conceive and bear healthy babies.
A ‘babymoon’ (think honeymoon for pregnant couples) is the new trendy travel for pregnant women and their partners, as the concept is to celebrate pregnancy and to relax before the birth. Lightroof Travel provides various types of babymoon trips in Asia, and ‘best babymoon destinations’ are now a thing in the media.
In the sense of leading brands in the luxury-meets-medical field, Six Senses Duxton has a resident Chinese doctor, and consultations for guests. Six Senses in Singapore is said to be creating a restaurant menu focused on TCM, as well as a dedicated space for TCM treatments, lectures and even medical tests from blood tests to scientific treatments.
Where it was
Specialised trips to few specific regions
Where it is
Blending TCM and fertility treatments into travel
Where it’s heading
Hospital or clinic-level care alongside luxury travel