Ophelia Yeung, co-director of the Center for Science, Technology and Economic Development, SRI International, released key findings of SRI International Research Study: The Global WTC, on Saturday at the inaugural of Global Wellness Tourism Congress.

According to the study, the global wellness tourism industry is estimated at USD 439 billion, or nearly 14 percent of total tourism expenditure, which caters to over 12 million jobs, and has an overall economic impact of close to USD 1.3 trillion.

The findings were particularly important for India, as SRI estimated that India will be No.1 for growth in Wellness tourism trips by 2017, and will clock over 20 percent annual growth, more than double of what is expected globally.

Organized by the Global Spa and Wellness Summit (GSWS), at the three-day event witness tourism experts have gathered to filter out best strategies to take the growing tourism sector forward.

Emphasizing on the theme of the three-day summit, Susie Ellis, CEO and Chairman, GSWS, said, "I firmly believe that wellness tourism can spark a revolution like no other, so let us come together and chart a course to make history for the people we serve and the industry we love."

The theme of this year's Summit was “A Defining Moment”.

Amitabh Kant, creator of the successful Incredible India campaign, said that travel and tourism in general, and wellness tourism in particular, are being largely dominated by certain emerging trends.

"The steady growth and development of BRIC countries like India and China, the rapidly aging populations of Europe and America, and the rise of the urban middle class. This has led to the growth of the alert independent traveler, an educated, well-heeled, conscientious traveler who is looking for new and unique experiences which enhance and develop well being, which is where wellness tourism plays a key role,” he said.

Thierry Malleret, renowned global strategist and economist and co-founder of the Monthly Barometer, said that the spa and wellness industries are “at the right place, at the right time”.

"As part of the industry, we are standing on the verge of a fantastic opportunity in a world looking to achieve a state of wellbeing,” added Malleret.

The study also revealed that wellness tourism is no longer just the province of the upper classes, the wellness tourist is still an exceptionally high yield tourist: spending, on an average, 65 percent more than the international tourist and 150 percent more than the domestic tourist.

(Agencies)

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