United Arab Emirates is No. 1 for countries with a high growth of wellness travel in the Middle East and North Africa. // © 2015 Thinkstock
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the second-most rapidly expanding region for wellness travel. According to a newly released ranking from Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the top three markets within MENA are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel and Morocco.
GWI calculated the rankings by combining total wellness trips added to annual percentage growth from 2012 to 2017. The aforementioned nations nearly doubled wellness trips in the targeted time frame.
The UAE added 993,352 trips and had 17.9 percent annual growth; Israel added 847,872 trips and experienced 18.6 percent annual growth; and Morocco added 825,703 trips and had 14.7 percent annual growth. Many other nations in the region, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, experienced annual growth and an increase in wellness trips as well.
Combining inbound and domestic numbers, wellness tourism in MENA has reached 7 million annually, and expenditures are at $7.3 billion.
“For many Middle East/North Africa nations, wellness tourism is growing twice as fast each year as tourism overall, and their wellness-focused trips will double in five short years,” said Anni Hood, director of wellness tourism for GWI.
According to Hood, many forces are fueling this growth.
“The region’s luxury/spa resort boom (especially in Gulf Cooperation Council countries) and the revitalization of indigenous practices (such as hammams and baths) that appeal to the authentic-experience-craving modern traveler are driving inbound trips,” she said. “And wellness travel within the region is being spurred by rising incomes, which have also meant a serious rise in unhealthy lifestyles and chronic disease, so more people are seeking healthy travel.”