Published on Sunday, March 16, 2008

Well Being and Spa Tourism – Industry Comment from ITTFA

There is no doubt that the spa is making a comeback. Despite the recent trend, it is of course a centuries old phenomenon – a thousand baths were to be found in ancient Rome and the grandest, Thermae of Diocletion, stretched for over 1.4million feet. Today’s spas are perhaps not quite as grand but people are certainly catching on to the benefits, both physical and mental, that such visits can bring.
Combining the benefits of a spa visit with a holiday, either at home or overseas, has become increasingly popular in many markets and a growing interest in holidays that provide health and well being benefits, as well as relaxation, have opened up new opportunities for many tour operators and service providers.
An increasing interest in more alternative lifestyles and therapies, fitness, weight-loss treatments, detox diets, mineral and thermal skin treatments and massage and yoga are seen as an antidote to the stress and strain of modern life.
Mintel estimated in their 2007 report that in 2006 135 million pounds was spent in the UK on health and wellness holidays and they forecast that spending will double by 2011. Healthy eating, nutrition, exercise, beauty, relaxation and pampering are becoming more important to people and many want to incorporate those elements into holidays, the research found.
This wave of well being and health is part of a more generic move towards more varied holidays and a desire to seek out new experiences, which are in general more active and focused than a traditional beach holiday. There is therefore scope to breathe new life into certain aspects of the tired and well-worn package holiday format.
In 2006 ITTFA member Philoxenia launched its Spa Expo, an exhibition-within-an-exhibition, aimed at providing sellers of the international spa industry an entry point to the rapidly growing tourism market of Greece and the other countries of South East Europe. Exhibitors are spa operators, (such as hotels and free-standing spas), destinations and specialist tour operators from around the world. Philoxenia Spa Expo will occupy a dedicated hall during Philoxenia 2008 which is held in Thessaloniki, 30 October to 2 November.

"Medical tourism" is the most popular activity in the health and wellness holiday sector in the UK. The over burdened national health system and rising costs have led people to look abroad for both dental and medical procedures as well as cosmetic surgery – in particular breast enlargement.
According to research released in 2006 by TRAM, Tourism Research and Marketing, of the Netherlands, medical tourism is a rapidly growing global market which is now being actively developed by both public and private sector tourism and healthcare organizations.

Spa Tourism has been an important part of medical treatment in Central and Eastern Europe for a very long time. Lately the trend has been adopted and reinvented in luxury hotels and specialised Spa Hotels and resorts offering a range of options from Turkish hammams to relaxing Thalassotherapy treatments. A number of Spa Associations actively promote and work on developing the industry further by focusing on spa specialisms such as eco-friendly spas, luxury spas, romantic spas, pampering spas, stress management and maternity options.

ITTFA member Zeljka Tomljenovic of ITE Exhibitions comments that, “As organizers of MITT and UITT we have noticed an increase in demand for space from those companies dealing with the Spa Industry, in terms of higher participation at our events as well as more aggressive promotion of the product line.”

The International SPA Association (ISPA) in the US estimated that in August 2007 there were 14,615 spas in the United States, up 6% on the same month in 2006, with day spas representing 80% of the total. Annual revenue for the US spa industry in 2006 stood at $9.4 billion, with revenue from medical spas more than doubling, 2005 to 2006.

It is anticipated that the spa industry will continue to expand at both ends of the market, both in the luxury, holiday segment and the regular, routine treatment sector with prices to suit most pockets. Spas in hotels are now common place and in some cities the high street is becoming peppered with spa salons providing us all with the opportunity to pop in for a treatment in and amongst the weekly shop.
As visiting a spa becomes a more integral part of peoples’ lifestyles and personal grooming regimes, an increasing number of spa goers will look to combine the occasional luxury spa experience with a visit overseas. The future therefore certainly looks healthy for this sector of the travel market.
ITTFA, International Tourism Trade Fairs Association, represents some of the best travel trade events worldwide. For more details on our members, see


For further information please contact:
Wendy Walker / Sara Armitage Evans
International Tourism Trade Fairs Association (ITTFA)
Tel. +44 208 939 9000
Email. [email protected]

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  • Ask, seek, knock & you'll find . . .

    I was a little surprised not to see India mentioned as a spa tourism destination or medical tourism destination. It is the "hot spot" in the world. If you're asking where the world-class medicine and health care is located you should seek America's Medical Solution, Pvt. Ltd. located in Bombay (Mumbai), India. Knock on their door at and you'll find all of India's private hospitals, doctors and clinics opened up to you. Now I'm a little more inclined to be supportive because I've used their services three times with three different health procedures and I would do it again if there were to be a need. AMS is owned and operated by three Americans living right in Bombay and their concierge services match western expectations. India and AMS is truly phenominal. Eye, dental, heart, orthopedic, surogacy, IVF, you just name it. India said she was going to become the world's greatest and if she isn't already, her prices and care certainly are. They cannot be beat. Otherwise, a good article. Dan Trenner

    By Dan Trenner, Thursday, March 27, 2008

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