Wellness tourism has the potential of being the top-most driver of the growth of Indian tourism industry. In a consistently growing economy where the population is recovering from a pandemic jolt, people are facing a fast changing life, wellness tourism here becomes even more important as it rejuvenates the body, mind and soul by detoxification provided by various healthcare therapies. India is perceived as one of the true spiritual homes of the modern wellness movement globally with its ancient practices of ayurveda, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, naturopathy, panchakarma and holistic health are among the experiences sought by wellness travellers in India.
To further enhance the quality of service, Ministry of Tourism has drafted guideline for wellness tourism. These guidelines address issues regarding making available quality publicity material, training and capacity building for the service providers, participation in international & domestic Wellness related events, etc.
Recently, a session was organised during SATTE 2021 titled, ‘Wellness Tourism: a big opportunity’. The session was moderated by Poonam Tipnis, General Manager-Sales, Niraamaya Retreats and witnessed key speakers from the industry including Dr. Anand More, Professor, All India Institute of Ayurveda; Dr Kishore Patel, Research Officer (Ayu.), Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences; Abhilash K.R, Executive Director, Kairali Ayurvedic Group; Vasudha Sondhi, Managing Director, OMPL who discussed the unexplored opportunities that the wellness segment offers to the Indian tourism.
Travellers from across the globe are now looking at Ayurveda and wellness tourism during the pandemic to rejuvenate their mind and body. Speaking further about the benefits of Ayurveda, Dr, More, said, “Ayurveda will definitely help during this covid-19 pandemic. Under Ayurveda the entire lifestyle which is promoted will rejuvenate the person. Along with rejuvenation, Ayurveda helps in detoxification with the panchakarma treatment. Today, life has become very stressful and it has been disturbing the body and mind. To help the body, mind and soul, Ayurveda and Yoga are the key and also, they help in increasing immunity. These therapies do not only treat patients, but also further helps to immunise fit and healthy individuals.”
One of the major challenges in India is the lack of awareness about the various benefits and therapies under Ayurveda and wellness. Dr. Patel added, “Whenever we think about wellness tourism we think about spa. It is a very good wellness practice, but if one applies Ayurveda in this concept it provides excellent results. In terms of wellness and Ayurveda tourism there is lack of awareness amongst the travellers.”
Over the years, wellness tourism has been looked as a necessity by travellers rather than a luxury segment. The trend has shifted where travellers are looking at preventive treatments to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Speaking about the shift in trends, Sondhi said, “The last decade has seen a shift in terms of trends in wellness tourism. The trend has shifted from medical care to preventive care. In India we have a very young population and this segment is very important for the corporate industry. Over the years, large corporates have started including wellness benefits for their mid-level to senior-level employees. The covid-19 pandemic has brought a sharp realization about one’s health. Even if 10 per cent of the people are touched by this realization then there is a huge market created for the wellness tourism segment. Under wellness tourism one can increase their immunity by eating substitute food, following various practices and a lot will look forward for these offerings.
The next generation travellers in India are looking at wellness tourism as a part of their itineraries which will provide an immense boost to this segment. Also, the awareness amongst this segment is high which will help the industry.
Speaking about the awareness of wellness tourism amongst the next generation travellers Abhilash added, “The next generation travellers have disposable income and are looking for a healthy lifestyle. These travellers are usually pre-educated about the wellness and living a healthy lifestyle. They are looking for yoga retreats, Ayurveda holidays, various other therapies, etc. It is a positive growth and a tremendous boost for us when this generation moves forward. Also, an interesting trend is this segment of travellers are looking for the traditional and natural way of wellness and they don’t want the hybrid models which are available. The come with a holistic approach and have immense knowledge.