Media Contact: Beth McGroarty
[email protected] • 213.300.0107

Global Spa Industry Now Valued at $94 Billion;
Thermal/Mineral Springs Market at $50 Billion;
Wellness Tourism Rises to $494 Billion


Research unveiled at 2014 Global Spa & Wellness Summit reveals worldwide spa industry grew 58% since 2007, with 34K spas added; wellness tourism expanded 12.5% last year

New “Global Wellness Economy Monitor” includes first-ever benchmarking of under-analyzed thermal/mineral springs market


New York, NY – September 18, 2014 – At last week’s Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) in Marrakesh, Morocco, the organization’s independent, non-profit research partner, SRI International, released top findings from the most comprehensive data yet on the global wellness market. This included refreshed data on the spa and wellness tourism markets, and the first research to size and analyze the global thermal/mineral springs segment.

Key takeaways:

  • The spa industry grew 58% from 2007-2013: from $60 billion to $94 billion, with a 47% growth in spa locations, to reach 105,591 spas
  • The thermal/mineral springs industry is a $50 billion market, spanning 26,847 properties
  • Wellness tourism expanded to $494 billion in revenues, rising 12.5% from 2012-2013 -significantly outpacing SRI’s original growth forecast of 9%.

“It has been six long years since our first spa industry research report, and to see nearly 60% growth across years marked by global financial collapse was as impressive as it was unexpected. Also exceeding our expectations: the growth in the wellness tourism market last year and the sheer scope of the thermal/mineral springs industry,” said Ophelia Yeung, senior consultant, Center for Science, Technology & Economic Development, SRI. “And key economic and demographic trends, we predict, will continue to fuel growth for these three segments, including the rise of the global middle class (at two billion people now, but expected to skyrocket to five billion by 2030); ongoing, phenomenal momentum for tourism, generally; millions more people each year proactively seeking a ‘wellness lifestyle’; and the story of developing markets, and so many new properties, across Asia, Middle East/Africa and Latin America.”


Global Spa Industry: Near $100 Billion Market – With Over 100K Spas
SRI International’s calculations for core spa industry revenues put spa facility revenues at the center, but also include businesses directly, critically associated with spas, including spa investment capital and spa-focused education, consulting and media/associations/events.

  • Breakdown of the current $94 billion spa industry: spa facilities $74 billion, spa investment capital $19 billion, spa education $800 million, spa media/education/events $200 million, and spa consulting $100 million
  • From 2007-2013, spa locations grew 47%: from 71,762 to 105,591

Regional Spa Industry Leaders & Growth 2007-2013
Europe:  $29.8 billion (+62%)
Asia-Pacific: $18.8 billion (+65%)
North America: $18.3 billion (+35%)
Latin America/Caribbean: $4.7 billion (+86%)
Middle East/North Africa: $1.7 billion  (+134%)
Sub-Saharan Africa: $800 million (+186%)

Europe retains its 2007 crown as the world’s largest spa market. And, notably, Asia-Pacific has since leapfrogged North America as the world’s second largest. And if Europe boasted the most spa locations in 2007 (22,607), Asia-Pacific now holds that title with 32,400+ spas today.

The spa revenue growth explosion is concentrated in emerging markets, with Sub-Saharan Africa ranking #1 (+186%) and Middle East/North Africa ranking #2 (+134%), both fast-developing regions that have added many spas from a low, 2007 base. But every region in the world except the mature North American market saw double-digit annual growth rates from 2007 to 2013. And Europe and Asia’s 60%+ growth is particularly impressive given its strong, existing base of spas in 2007.

See the presentation:

Hot Springs Eternal: Ancient Practice Now $50 Billion Market
In places like Europe and Japan, thermal/mineral bathing has an ancient pedigree, and today “taking the waters” goes by dozens of names worldwide: from agua calientes, to balneotherapy, to therma. With a hot/mineral springs resurgence underway (so many countries modernizing old facilities and investing billions in new, springs-based resorts), SRI undertook the first research to size this “millennia-old-but-hot-again” market. While hundreds of thousands of springs occur naturally worldwide, SRI’s research only included revenue-earning springs (i.e., with built facilities).

  • The global hot springs market is now worth $50 billion, with nearly 27,000 facilities across 103 nations
  • The research segmented the industry into thermal/mineral springs facilities that offer bathing with spa services, and those without. Those without spa services heavily dominate location-wise, at 20,343 establishments, vs. 6,504 with spa.
  • But while springs with spa services represent only roughly a third of global establishments, in aggregate they earn more than twice the revenue as springs without spa services: $32 billion vs. $18 billion annually

Hot Springs Markets: Asia & Europe Heavily Dominate
Asia-Pacific: $26.7 billion
Europe: $21.7 billion
Latin America: $900 million
North America: $500 million
Middle East/North Africa: $200 million
Sub-Saharan Africa: $5 million

The thermal/mineral springs industry is intensely concentrated: ten countries account for 85% of revenues and Japan and China comprise a staggering 51% of the market (driven by the thousands of onsens in Japan and massive, ongoing investment in resorts in China). The rest of the “top ten” national markets are in Europe, where hydrotherapy has long been part of the medical equation.

More preliminary hot springs data:

Wellness Tourism: Near Half-Trillion-Dollar Market – Up 12.5% from Last Year
SRI’s 2013 report “The Global Wellness Tourism Economy” put the wellness-focused travel segment firmly on the map, finding that wellness travel is growing nearly 50% faster than the global tourism overall. For 2014, key numbers are updated:

  • As a $494 billion industry, wellness tourism represents more than one in seven (14.6%) of all travel dollars spent worldwide
  • Wellness-focused trips jumped from 524 million to 586.5 million from 2012-2013
  • Wellness tourists remain big spenders: international wellness travelers spend 59% more than the average border-crossing tourist, while domestic wellness tourists spend 159% more
  • SRI makes the crucial distinction between “primary” wellness tourists (where wellness is the motivating reason for the trip) and the “secondary” variety (people opting for wellness-related activities as part of a trip). The former remains the more niche group (13% of the market), and primary wellness tourism trips grew 11.2% – while secondary-purpose trips grew 11.9% – last year.
  • Domestic wellness trips (the lion’s share of the market, at 68% of spend) grew 12.1%, while international trips grew 10.1%.
  • North America ($196.5 billion market, 8% growth 2012-2013) and Europe ($178.1 billion, 12% growth) firmly remain the largest markets. But the developing story is again developing nations: Sub-Saharan African wellness tourism grew 57%; Middle East/North African 39%; Asia-Pacific 21% and Latin America 16%, between 2012-2013.

More preliminary wellness tourism data:

More Research Coming: While preliminary findings from the GSWS’s “Global Wellness Economy Monitor” were shared last week, the full report (sizing wider wellness industries like healthy eating/weight loss, preventative/personalized medicine, beauty/anti-aging, complementary/alternative medicine, fitness/mind-body and workplace wellness – as well as providing more detailed data on regional spa and wellness tourism markets–will be released September 30 at a media event in New York City.

To learn more about the research or the September 30 event – or to speak with an SRI analyst – please contact Beth McGroarty: [email protected] or (+1) 213-300-0107.

About the Summit: The Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) is an international organization representing senior executives and leaders joined by a common interest in driving economic development and understanding of the spa and wellness industries. Delegates from diverse sectors, including hospitality, tourism, health and wellness, beauty, finance, medical, real estate, manufacturing and technology attend the organization’s annual Summit, held in a different host country each year and attracting delegates from over 45 nations. After just eight years, the GSWS is now considered the leading global research and educational resource for the $3.4 trillion, multi-sector wellness industry. It’s known for introducing major industry initiatives such as the Global Wellness Tourism Congress, whose forums bring public and private stakeholders together to chart the course of the fast-growing wellness travel sector, and, the world’s first online portal to the medical evidence for common wellness approaches. For more information, visit