By Parthivi Joshi
Wellness tourism is a rising global phenomenon. Not to be confused with medical tourism that essentially means availing hospital treatment and facilities, two are along the same lines though.
Owing to hectic lifestyle and erratic daily schedules, people have started feeling the need to put ‘wellness’ at the core of their routine. This has led to the birth of wellness retreats across the globe catering to specific physiological and psychological needs of an individual.
The USP of wellness tourism is that it seamlessly weaves in health and well being in the travel itinerary. These trips give special attention to aspects like healthy food, meditation and rejuvenation activities and relaxing spa treatments mostly among natural settings.
The wellness tourism industry typically sees two kinds of tourists – primary wellness traveler and secondary wellness traveler. While the latter are the kinds to integrate wellness in their existing travel itinerary and the former plan their trip solely with the intention of relaxation.
The wellness trend is well accepted by people across all age groups. Hotels or resorts are coming up with curated experiences to cater to specific demands of its guests offering an enhanced experience. India’s medical tourism industry is projected to churn an income of 6 billion dollars by 2018, according to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) experts.
India was quick to establish itself as the topmost choice when it comes to wellness tourism – given the country’s rich heritage and ancient alternative medical practices like Yoga, Ayurveda, Naturopathy and so on. Additionally, India also boasts of advantages like staff’s fluency in English, optimized cost of treatment and availability of top-notch diagnostic equipment present in most of the medical facilities.
Talking to Nikhil Kapur, co-founder of ‘Atmantan’, one of the top wellness retreats nestled in the Sahyadris about the driving factors for leaving a flourishing corporate job to set up an own venture. “A holistic approach is what is needed to keep oneself physically and mentally fit in today’s fast paced life. Luckily our generation of today acknowledges this fact and is open to disconnect to reconnect”.
Talking about the trends in wellness tourism, he says that there are 3 key trends in the market – travel for health, reason for traveling and progressive mindsets of certain companies who believe that establishing a mental and physical balance is of utmost importance to increase employee productivity. Says Sharmilee Kapur , ‘there are seven to eight retreats which we offer like detox, yoga, weight balance, Ayurveda panchkarma and so on.’
‘Over the years, we have also graduated towards thinking that it is not only with medicines that the overall health of a patient is taken care of, but also if the treatment is supported with some alternative medication or rejuvenating therapies, the recovery is faster,’ says Dr. Dinesh Pandya a senior physician running his own medical practice in suburban Mumbai.
Dr. Ashwini, a consulting gynecologist, with a renowned private hospital in Pune says that she doesn’t hesitate to recommend a wellness retreat to some of her patients who come from well-off families. About 80 per cent of her patients comprise of working ladies who work till their third trimester and the immense work pressure coupled with the bodily changes because of pregnancy take a massive toll on their overall well being.
Wellness is definitely the new mantra. Talking about India and its deep-rooted connection with Ayurveda, we head down south to Kerala – the land of Ayurveda. It’s basically an amalgamation of Ayurveda hospital under resort ambience. In conversation with Dr. Seena Rajendra, a senior doctor of ‘Somatheeram’, she says ‘people have a positive affection towards the Ayurveda because it originates in nature, doesn’t have any side effects, but very vast preventative measures”.
To conclude, the Indian wellness industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12 percent. The awareness regarding wellness coupled with increased disposable income in the working class of the country has led to a thriving number of high end retreats and resorts across select places in the country in the lap of nature promising to offer peace and tranquility.