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WTA's 2021 survey reveals key consumer preferences for future wellness tourism and travel

07 Oct 2021
The Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) has unveiled the 2021 installation of its Wellness Travel Consumer Survey to help the hospitality and leisure industry gain a clearer understanding of wellness-minded consumers’ priorities as they plan their post-pandemic travels.

With nearly 2,500 respondents from 52 countries and territories, the survey was designed to reveal what assets, amenities, activities and offerings are important or unimportant to consumers when planning their future wellness travels.

The top five offerings rated “extremely important” were as follows:
• A certified safe and clean hotel environment.
• A purified water system throughout the hotel.
• Access to fitness activities in nature.
• A hotel environment with sustainable and green practices in place.
• Guest rooms with an air filtration system to guarantee purified air.

The top ranking across the three main generational cohorts – Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers – was for hotels with “A certified safe and clean environment”.

The top five assets rated “not important at all” includes:
• Access to mental health professionals.
• Access to fitness trackers and apps that monitor things like heart rate in real-time.
• Access to nutritionists.
• Access to medical practitioners for one-on-one consultations or medical testing that could predict a predisposition to future medical issues.
• Access to other wellness practitioners.

The ranking was followed by an open-ended question; “What one thing not mentioned in the 16 items would be a wellness “Must Have” when you begin to travel again?”

The three of the top themes that emerged were:

• Safety in terms of physical safety, plus safety from exposure to Covid-19.
• Access to stillness and quiet spaces.
• Nature and the outdoors.

The survey also asked respondents to rank what might influence them most when it came to booking wellness travel over the next two years and the results were as gollows:
• Price.
• Flexibility (with bookings and cancellation policies).
• Trust (in the supplier).
• Destination Management (the manner in which local lawmakers have managed the pandemic).

“While the importance of nature has been an overwhelming theme and top priority for wellness travellers since we started conducting these surveys in 2018, we’re now seeing a dramatic increase in the demand for self-care as consumers are more proactive about their health than ever before,” said Anne Dimon, president and CEO of the WTA.

“On the heels of our first International Wellness Tourism Conference, we’re thrilled to announce the findings of our latest survey to provide insight as the industry recovers and wellness continues to be a front runner."

With the vast majority of respondents from North America, the demographics were split between 40 per cent of respondents aged 26 to 39 (Millennials); 25 per cent between the ages of 40 to 54 (Gen X); and 26 per cent between the ages of 55 to 74 (Baby Boomers).

A total of 64 per cent identified as female while 43 per cent reported that their annual income was US$75,000 (€64,865, £55,192).

A total of 84 per cent of respondents reported they participate in wellness activities when they travel, and 61 per cent reported that they’re currently planning a wellness vacation.

The three-month online survey was administered between April-June 2021 by the WTA in collaboration with WTA research associate, Danny Kessler Ph.D., assistant professor at Dongseo University, International College in Busan, South Korea.

A white paper digging further into the analytics of the survey is currently in the works.

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