Hotels and the wellness agenda game plan ahead..

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Wellness travel is booming as Indian hotels are enhancing their products with unique experiences in Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda,now becoming a way of life for people in a report by Irene Susan Eapen.

Wellness Tourism is one of the fastest growing concept in hotels in India with Yoga and Ayurveda. With the urban lifestyle being hectic wellness is now a way of living for health conscious people. India has recently been projected to be the fastest growing nation in the wellness tourism sector within the next five years, clocking over 20% gains annually through 2017, according to a study conducted by SRI International.

The Wellness Tourism segment is estimated to grow nearly 50 per cent faster than global tourism by 2017, and a significant contribution to this will come from Asia, stated a recent study. India is the world’s fastest growing destination for Wellness Tourism, with projected growth of 22% per year, according to a 2013 study by the Global Wellness Institute. India will be a prime destination for wellness tourism in a span of few years.

Wellness Tourism
Shobhit Sawhney, General Manager, Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa states,” Wellness tourism has grown manifold in the last decade with tourism boards supporting and promoting this. In Goa specially, this has grown tremendously and has become a niche offering with tourists visiting Goa from all over the world for now only the beaches and sports but also for wellness and rejuvenation. With the advent of unique experiences and offerings, this is a fast growing segment.”

In the opinion of Imit Arora, General Manager,The Lalit Chandigarh,”India is one of the world’s true wellness Meccas and an ideal place to explore its ancient roots as they have yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. In recent years, wellness travel to India has exploded.”

Nishant Agarwal, General Manager, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park observes,” Spiritual, rejuvenation and wellness tourism are the one of the prime factors of domestic tourism in India.”

Anand Nair, General Manager, Vasundhara Sarovar Premiere, Kerala – Vayalar explains,”Spa culture is growing steadily in India over the past few years. The spa experience has become more accessible than ever before and we see more of health conscious travelers are utilizing the Spa. With India’s strong background in Ayurveda and Yoga, we have been receiving increased attention from foreign travelers for wellness treatments.”

“India’s Spa industry is witnessing an increase in demand for indigenous Spa facilities which have modern luxurious design and a combination of western and traditional therapies. The popularity of spa facilities in hotels and resorts has exploded in recent years, “he added.

“Wellness tourism in India has various components like- Health spas, Ayurveda Treatments, Yoga & Meditation Retreats, Naturopathy Centers, Unani/ Siddha Treatments options and medical tourism. The Ministry of AYUSH, GOI is pro-actively contributing in promoting wellness in India, “says, Mahima Sharma, Director of Spa, Spa by JW, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar.

“As international travel becomes cheaper and infrastructure becomes better, India offers cheaper treatment options as a wellness destination and is poised to be one of the top destinations in the world.
The wellness and medical tourism in India was projected in the range of Rs8000 Cr. – 13000 Cr by the year 2013.SRI International has projected India gaining by 205 annually and becoming the top wellness tourism destination in next five years,” she added.

“An estimated 21 million trips are made per year, generating $4.7b in revenue. At present, the vast majority of travellers are domestic, accounting for 20 million visits,” says, Nikhil Kapur, Founder & Director, Atmantan Wellness Center.

“The Atmantan Master Cleanse is a synergistic formula of resetting the organs and systems of the body through cellular cleansing and toxin elimination which meticulously assists the body in ridding of emotional and hormonal imbalance, you will discover that this cleansing ritual will not just facilitate the cleansing of your emotional knots and unclutter the mind, but will also lead you to benefits of improved sleep, increased immunity and permit your body to self-heal. The Taoist Chi Nei Tsang treatment is also known as the benchmark for detoxification worldwide, “he added.

Marketing and promotional plans
Shobit says “We have recently introduced Wellness at the Park which are thoughtfully curated stay experiences revolving around wellness needs – rejuvenation, ant stress and weight management.”

Anand explains, “In this highly competitive Spa Industry, proper strategy for marketing and promotion is vital. We are now focusing more on Digital Marketing as those will help us to reach out to a large volume of consumers. We have been prominent in trade fairs like ITB, Berlin which is a huge source market for Wellness programs in addition to maintaining relations with Agents who specialize in promoting Spa & Wellness packages.

Mahima states “The Ministry of AYUSH gave a big boost to the wellness sector with recently celebrated International Yoga Day. The wellness businesses target both urban Indian and Foreigners for year around business.”

Expected growth for 2016
Shobhit says,”We are looking at a positive incremental trend in 2016 and ahead owing to the increase in awareness among people both in India and overseas towards wellness as a way of living and not just a short term investment.”

“In order to provide dedicated institutional framework to take forward the cause of promotion of Medical Tourism, Wellness Tourism and Yoga, Ayurveda Tourism and any other format of Indian system of medicine covered by Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), a National Medical and Wellness Tourism Board has been constituted. Therefore we look forward to the wellness industry growing well. Wellness or preventive healthcare nowadays is the attracting factor for both domestic people and foreigners,” Nishant added.

Anand states, “The growth story for 2016 is projected to be steady. The Arab market has opened up as a major source market for Wellness & Medical tourism. This segment is expected to perform very well for 2016. The traditional markets have been stagnating for some time and renewed vigor in marketing initiatives undertaken by the Tourism Department could assist in increasing the numbers from them.”

Trends in Wellness
“The guests opt for healthy options and prefer smaller hearty meals rather than large traditional meals. There is an increased awareness towards the importance of simple Indian food as a path to wellness of mind and body.” Shobhit says.

Imit stated “As more people embrace an overall healthier lifestyle at home, we are now seeing these behaviours translate and integrate into their travel and vacation habits. For others, vacation provides an escape from the tedious daily lifestyle. As these two trends converge, we are seeing many people commit their vacation time and money to wellness travel, as it is evident by their increased spending and specific global destination choices.”

“We see that in recent past a lot of guests are keen to explore the Spa facilities. The Spaholics is gaining lot of popularity as people are now more conscious about wellness. We have noticed that majority of our guests look for healthy eating options across all our outlets,” he added.

In the opinion of Nishant, “Power Yoga and some natural therapies still hold good ground in terms of getting patients in India. In 2014, about 20 per cent of the 230,000 foreigners who visited India as medical tourists were reported to have visited yoga or wellness centres. India also gets many business travellers from who undergo day-care procedures as well as wellness procedures.”

Anand observes” There is a growing interest in wellness and rejuvenation, the travelers are ready to compromise in all aspects, whether in the matter of food or the duration of various treatments. Since the organic food products are getting high demand among the wellness diet plans. Many resorts specializing in Ayurveda have their own organic farms to meet these requirements. Customized diets are served in the restaurants, in order to satisfy the guests who want to focus on the goals such as weight loss, detox. The most important change we noticed is that Yoga and meditation has become a part of the daily routine for all the wellness enthusiasts.”

Nikhil says “Considering the fast growing trend of lifestyle diseases in India due to urbanization, it is highly crucial for Indians to modify their lifestyle and adopt the doctrines of our ancient medical knowledge. Most of the lifestyle diseases that are prevalent in the society can be reversed or managed by taking time to understand one’s personality trait and practice a more disciplined living. Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Yoga believe in various principles of positive living. This is also one of the reasons why the Indian System of Medicine has got so much popularity these days.”

“Indians have been realizing more and more on the importance of drug less systems in reversing the disease processes. Yoga has been globally recognized as a supreme body-mind-spirit practice. The awareness of these is fast growing in India. Most common lifestyle disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other metabolic syndromes are very well managed by practicing healthy eating,” Nikhil says.

“The wellness patterns definitely show an inclination toward detox regimes, stress management, weight management and fitness,” Mahima added.

India a wellness destination
Shobhit says, “With the increase in wellness offerings across the country and the rising awareness amongst people to embrace wellness as a way of life, this is definitely a good sign for the country and we must use it well to showcase Ayurveda a lovely legacy of our ancestors.”

“India has great potential in wellness tourism in the world. Several factors such as low costs, scale and range of treatments differentiate it from other medical tourism destinations.” Imit added.

Anand states, “India will continue to be a hot spot for medical tourists who seek travel services that incorporate diverse wellness packages, including those that couple medical procedures with spa indulgences, Ayurveda treatments or cultural immersion experiences. With the advent of high-end multi-specialty hospitals and dramatically improved healthcare facilities, this segment is sure to show tremendous growth. Marketing campaigns focused on Wellness Tourism and its benefits in source markets across the world would help position India as a leading player in this segment and attract more curiosity from prospective clients.”

Mahima explains, “Being the spiritual leader of the world and the land of Ayurveda India is already a wellness destination. Policy framework to standardize and infrastructure will help consolidate this position further.”

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