In a strategic move to harness untapped potential, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are eyeing the burgeoning wellness tourism sector as a vital catalyst for their tourism economy, as suggested by industry experts.
Recognizing the significance of wellness-focused travel experiences, these nations aim to leverage this trend to drive regional travel even during the off-season.
According to m.thepeninsulaqatar.com, Associate Manager, Hospitality and Tourism, Colliers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Naiara Giner in an interview with The Peninsula, said wellness tourism holds significant importance during the summer months in the GCC countries.
The wellness tourism industry is going from strength to strength, buoyed by the increasing commitment to prioritising self-care. With the GCC home to abundant natural resources with remedial properties and picturesque landscapes, the region is placed in an ideal position to establish itself as a global destination for tourists looking to focus on their mental and physical well-being.
“The extreme heat of the summer can be a deterrent for traditional tourism, leading many tourists and residents to seek refuge in wellness-focused experiences,” Giner stated.
In GCC countries, the hot season lasts for five months, from mid-May to the end of September. The average daily high temperature can reach above 44 degrees, leaving the region with more outbound travellers than inbound.
The global wellness tourism market was valued at $814.6bn in 2022, per reports by Grand View Research. This growth is led by the lodging segment whose revenue share stood at 23.3 percent — and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 12.4 percent from 2023 to 2030.
On the other hand, the Global Wellness Institute notes that expected revenue from this sector will reach $1.3 trillion globally by 2025 — making it the tourism industry’s fastest-growing sector.
Qatar, for instance, boasts some of the region’s most immersive world-class retreats like Al Messila Resort and Spa, Sharq Village and Spa, Hilton Salwa Beach Resort and Villas, Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som, Banana Island Resort Spa and many others.
“Wellness tourism encompasses many activities, including spa retreats, yoga and meditation retreats and health-focused getaways. These offerings provide relief from the heat and cater to the growing demand for relaxation, rejuvenation and self-care,” Giner added.
“Wellness tourism also aligns with the region’s efforts to diversify its tourism offerings and promote year-round visitation. Moreover, the GCC’s investment in world-class wellness facilities, including luxury spas and resorts, has positioned it as a sought-after destination for those seeking holistic well-being.”
An IMARC Group report puts the GCC tourism market growth rate (CAGR) at 17.50% during 2023-2028. The report stated that this growth is driven by the increasing preferences for sustainable travel options, such as eco-friendly accommodations and low-impact activities, a rising preference for studying overseas, and the growing popularity of culinary shows and food-centric media. Moreover, experts have cited that the COVID-19 pandemic expedited wellness from luxury to becoming a priority.
“By embracing wellness tourism, the GCC countries can leverage their natural beauty and cultural heritage to attract tourists seeking respite from the summer heat while simultaneously contributing to the region’s economic and tourism development goals,” Giner said.