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Wellness holidays on the rise

Wellness holidays on the rise

Once British tourists were happy to return home from their hols with a suntan and a bottle of the local hooch.

But today's holidaymakers are looking for so much more....a greater sense of well being, a cleansed mind, body and soul or maybe even a new look.

Latest research from Mintel finds that last year alone we went on no less than 205,000 health and wellness holidays, where we benefited from the likes of yoga classes, holistic healing, spa visits or even surgical recuperation.

Indeed, in 2006 the British spent an estimated £135 million on these kinds of holidays and the fun doesn't stop there, with sales set to increase by as much as 150 per cent by 2011.

Senior travel analyst at Mintel, Richard Cope, said "It seems many British tourists are developing a taste for a holiday with a difference.

“Tired of the fly and flop package deals, they are opting for spa holidays, holistic breaks or in some cases a medical break for a session of cosmetic surgery or dentistry.“

He added, “Although this is a niche market, health and wellness holidays are steadily growing into a high value business, with the average cost of a trip well in excess of the holiday market norms.

“This market is fuelled by those looking to escape the pressures of a culture of long working hours and what some operators see as an urge to retreat from the debilitating effects of the consumer society."

Last year we spent around £25 million on overseas health and wellness holidays and twice this (£50 million) on UK domestic breaks of this nature.

But, while once spending your holiday in a hospital bed was a bad thing, the largest sector of this market is overseas medical tourism.  Although not strictly a leisure market, this sector is now worth as much as £60 million.

Medical tourism, which includes cosmetic surgery, operations or simply post-op recuperation, has been growing in popularity over the last decade.

And while most travel companies are wary of the risks of involvement in anything surgical, our research shows that more than one in ten (12 per cent) British adults would consider having surgery or an operation abroad because it is cheaper, and as many as a quarter (25 per cent) would be interested in recuperating in a hotel after an illness or operation.

Cope said, "Demand for medical tourism was initially fuelled by a rising interest in cosmetic surgery, which is more cheaply available abroad.

Today, this sector is a thriving industry as a growing number of well-off baby boomers take their health needs into their own hands and pursue the elixir of eternal youth.

Mintel's research shows that health and wellness holidays have really captured the nation's imagination.

Up to a third (33 per cent) of consumers have tried spa-type treatments, saunas or jacuzzis on their holidays within the last 12 months alone.  Meanwhile, as many as one in four (24 per cent) have had a massage while on holiday.

This is significantly higher than those who have had these treatments as part of their normal daily life. What is more, no longer the sole domain of well-heeled women, men are now just as keen on these treatments as women.

Metrosexuality is scarcely a talking point any longer. It is now the norm.

AJR
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