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Latin American Wellness Tourism Market to Nearly Double from 2012 to 2017

May 5, 2014 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

The Global Wellness Tourism Congress (GWTC), a division of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) focused on charting the growth of the rapidly growing wellness travel sector, today released first-ever findings on the Latin American wellness travel market at the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) affiliate conference being held in Uruguay.

The research, undertaken by SRI International for the GWTC, reveals that if the region’s wellness travel market is still in its relative infancy (representing $22 billion of the global market’s $439 billion USD) – a very strong growth story lies ahead.

The region (spanning Mexico/the Caribbean and Central and South America) will grow an impressive 13.4% annually through 2017 (to $42 billion USD) – nearly twice the projected growth rate for established market leaders Europe and North America. Only one global region (the Middle East) will grow faster. And the region’s top five fastest-growing markets, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, rank in the top 25 globally for wellness tourism growth through 2017.

Wellness tourism is defined as “all travel associated with enhancing one’s personal well-being,” and this data on Latin America is broken out from the GWTC’s “Global Wellness Tourism Economy” report, the first research to size and analyze this travel category that already represents one in seven of all tourist dollars.

Susie Ellis, Chairman & CEO of the GWI, presents the findings tomorrow at the first UNWTO conference on approaches that overcome tourism seasonality, and noted, “From Mexico, to all across Central and South America, this is an exciting wellness travel growth story to watch. The region has a unique resource that’s increasingly precious to our world: extensive, unspoiled nature and extraordinary destinations that marry eco, adventure and nature with wellness and spa. Additionally, the domestic market will grow as more people in the region will inevitably seek healthy living and prevention, as stress and chronic disease* rise.”


To view the breakdown for the top 16 Latin American nations for wellness travel (trips and expenditures, international vs. domestic travel, and wider economic impact), click here.

Expenditures: The Latin American wellness tourism market (domestic and international combined) is worth $22.4 billion USD annually, or roughly 5% of the $439 billion global market.

Trips: 31.7 million wellness-focused trips (inbound and domestic) are taken throughout the region each year, or roughly 6% of the global total of 524 million.

Top 5 Country Leaders (trips & annual expenditures in USD):

1) Mexico: 11.4 mil – $8.9 billion 2) Brazil: 5.3 mil – $2.2 billion 3) Argentina: 2.3 mil – $1.6 billion 4) Puerto Rico: 2 mil – $1.5 billion 5) Dominican Republic: 876 mil – $1.2 billion

Note that Mexico ranks #1 by strong margins: generating roughly twice as many annual trips, and four times more expenditures, than any other nation. And Mexico is a global leader: its $8.9 billion in yearly revenues ranks #10 for wellness tourism spend in the world.

Powerful Growth Story Ahead: Latin America’s 13.4% annual wellness tourism growth rate is significantly higher than the global average of 9.9% – and dramatically trumps long-established wellness travel nations like the U.S. and Germany, with their roughly 5% annual projected growth.

The top five fastest-growing Latin American nations listed below (based on a combination of growth rate and trips added) also rank among the top 25 nations GLOBALLY for projected wellness tourism growth through 2017. Global growth rank: Mexico #9, Chile #17, Brazil #19, Argentina #24 and Uruguay #25.

Top Five Fastest-Growing Wellness Tourism Markets (Total Trips Added and Annual Growth Rate, 2012-2017)

1) Mexico: 7 mil – 10% 2) Chile: 3.5 mil – 17.3% 3) Brazil: 2.7 mil – 8.7% 4) Argentina: 1.6 mil – 11.4% 5) Uruguay: 1.1 mil – 14.7%

Chile and Uruguay will grow fastest, but note that current regional leader, Mexico, will still add the most trips through 2017.

International/Inbound Wellness Tourism More Dominant: Worldwide, domestic wellness tourism is exponentially larger than its international equivalent, representing 84% of trips and 68% of expenditures. But for Latin America, inbound wellness tourists make a bigger contribution to the market than for any global region except the Middle East/Africa. Domestic wellness tourism in Latin America represents 71% of trips, but only 54% of expenditures.

Inbound Leaders – Mexico/Caribbean: Mexico and several Caribbean nations currently attract the most international wellness-seeking travelers, not surprising given their long tradition of “sun, sand and sea” spa/wellness resorts. The regional “inbound” leaders: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

Economy & Job Driver: Wellness tourism is directly responsible for 900,000 jobs across Latin America. And the travel segment has an estimated impact of $58 billion USD on the wider, regional economy.

More Reports Coming: This represents the second of five GWTC regional reports. Data on the Asian, North American and Middle Eastern/African wellness tourism markets will be released over the next couple months.

For information on the “Global Wellness Tourism Economy” report, contact Beth McGroarty: beth(at)rbicom(dot)com or (+1) 213-300-0107. Qualified media may request a copy.

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