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Wellness Tourism Association’s 2021 Wellness Travel Survey Reveals Future Booking Motivations


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Just under 2,500 consumers from 52 countries and territories took part in the Wellness Tourism Association’s (WTA) 2021 Wellness Travel Consumer Survey to help the hospitality industry, tour operators, and travel agents/advisors have a clearer understanding of wellness-minded consumers’ priorities as they begin planning their post-pandemic travels. This latest survey from the WTA was designed to reveal what assets, amenities, activities, and other offerings are “extremely important” to key consumers as they plan their future wellness travels, what is “not important at all,” and what might influence them most when it comes to booking wellness-travel over the next two years.

The overall top five offerings rated “extremely important” were the following: 

  1. A certified safe and clean hotel environment 
  2. A purified water system throughout the hotel 
  3. Access to fitness activities in nature 
  4. A hotel environment with sustainable and green practices in place 
  5. Guest rooms with an air filtration system to guarantee purified air  

The ranking for “A certified safe and clean hotel environment” ranked number one across the three main generational cohorts (Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers).

The overall top five rated “not important at all” were the following:

  1. Access to mental health professionals 
  2. Access to fitness trackers and apps that can monitor things like heart rate in real-time 
  3. Access to nutritionists  
  4. Access to medical practitioners for one-on-one consultations or medical testing that could predict a predisposition to future medical issues  
  5. Access to other wellness practitioners

The ranking was followed by an open-ended question – “What ONE thing NOT mentioned in the 16 items would be a wellness “Must Have” when you begin to travel again.” Answers to the question generated more than 9,000 words. Three of the top themes that emerged were: 

  1. Safety in terms of physical safety plus safe from exposure to COVID-19 
  2. Access to stillness and quiet spaces 
  3. Nature and the outdoors

The survey also asked respondents to rank what might influence them most when it came to booking wellness-travel over the next two years and results were: price, flexibility (with bookings and cancellation policies), trust (in the supplier), and destination management (the manner in which local lawmakers have managed the pandemic).  

“On the heels of our first International Wellness Tourism Conference, we’re thrilled to announce the findings of our latest survey to provide insight as the industry recovers and wellness continues to be a front runner,” says Anne Dimon, president and CEO of the WTA. “While the importance of nature has been an overwhelming theme and top priority for wellness travelers since we started conducting these surveys in 2018, we’re now seeing a dramatic increase in the demand for self-care as consumers are more proactive about their health than ever before.”

With the vast majority of respondents from North America, the demographics breakdown is as follows:  40 percent between the ages 26 to 39 (Millennials); 25 percent between the ages of 40 to 54 (Gen X); and 26 percent between the ages of 55 to 74 (Baby Boomers). A total of 64 percent identified as female, 43 percent reported that their annual income was $75,000 plus, and 35 percent travel with a “significant other.” Close to 60 percent said they had a bachelor’s degree or higher, and just under 57 percent were full-time employees.  A total of 84 percent of respondents reported they participate in wellness activities when they travel, and 61 percent reported that they are currently planning a wellness vacation.

The three-month (April, May, June 2021) online survey was administered by the WTA in collaboration with WTA Research Associate, Danny Kessler Ph.D., assistant professor at Dongseo University, International College in Busan, South Korea. The survey was sponsored by the online payment platform WeTravel and promoted by the WTA along with WTA Members and Partners. 

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.