Scotland business

Tourism demand for 'wellness' holidays grows

Fairy Glen - Uig, Skye Image copyright Anne Simpson
Image caption Skye's Fairy Glen is among the many places across Scotland tourists flock to

Tourism businesses are being urged to adapt to the growing traveller demand for "wellness" holidays.

VisitScotland has published its annual review of trends in the industry, and this year it is focused on demand for vacations that boost self-development.

Examples where Scotland can exploit the potential include "restorative recreation", featuring the outdoors.

Other targets include the emotional appeal of its scenery and relaxing with nature.

"Creative retreats" focus on hobbies, skills and unique opportunities. These can range form writing and art workshops to cookery courses and outdoor survival training.

A further trend within wellness, according to the VisitScotland publication, is what it calls "trav-agogy".

Environmental impact

For that, travellers want to learn in depth about the places they are visiting, immersing themselves in local culture, sometimes learning a new skill in the process.

"Green getaways" are for travellers who want to limit the environmental impact of their transport and visit. For them, tourism businesses are being encouraged to demonstrate what they are doing to reduce environmental harm.

According to the review, wellness tourism worldwide was worth £500bn in 2017, and has recently grown at more than twice the pace of tourism overall.

Chris Greenwood, insights manager at VisitScotland, said: "Our annual trends paper is designed to help the tourism sector, showing them what consumers want and inspiring businesses to adapt or develop their products.

"Wellness tourism is a trend that's not going away and is expected to continue growing. With wellness travellers found to be very high-spending, high-yield tourists, there is huge potential for businesses who want to appeal to this market, creating experiences that enlighten the senses and feed the soul.

"Fortunately, Scotland's ability to embrace wellness within our visitor economy is embedded within our tourism industry DNA."

Image copyright Forestry Commission Scotland
Image caption Healthy living is said to be one of the "mega trends" in world travel

Analysis by Douglas Fraser, BBC Scotland business/economy editor

The customer is king and queen in every industry, of course. But in tourism, it is the customer that sets the trends and the industry has to follow.

VisitScotland's analysis of wellness vacationing is supported by opinion elsewhere. One factor that keeps cropping up in recent months has been the drive to cut out single-use plastic.

Ryanair has jumped on that airborne bandwagon, with the aim of eliminating plastic cups and packaging by 2023. Needless to say, it has cost-cutting opportunities, so prepare to take your own reusable cup if you want a coffee from Michael O'Leary's flight crew.

A survey recently issued by Booking.com claims to have questioned more than 21,000 travellers from 29 countries about their views and priorities, and the environment was a significant factor.

It found that 86% of respondents "would be willing to spend time doing activities that counterbalance the environmental impact of their stay, with 37% saying they would spend time clearing plastic and litter from a beach or another tourist attraction".

Euromonitor recently published its view on eight "mega trends" in world travel. Some are shaped by technology, but of the eight, three chime with the VisitScotland findings: healthy living, ethical living and experiencing more.

Back at Booking.com, they found that search for experience was translated into a desire to be more adventurous about destinations in 2019.

Meanwhile, 42% say they want an experience that makes them feel like a kid again, led by millennials and Generation Z.

Maybe that means they'll get their parents to pay.

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