The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of a disease or infirmity”. Unarguably, since the onset of the pandemic, health and wellness has emerged as one of the key focus areas as people across the globe adjust to the ‘new normal.
The 21st century is often seen as the pinnacle of technology and innovation, but the pandemic has brought about a unique phenomenon; people wanting to reconnect with nature, as it is the first and the most ancient source of wellbeing and healing known to mankind. The pandemic has revealed that taking care and control of your own health is even more critical than before. As a result, wellness tourism is becoming so popular that experts present at the Global Wellness Summit held in November 2020 predicted that, going forward, the demand for wellness therapies may even surpass that for medical
treatments. Ironically India, which happens to be the birthplace of this ancient way of life, is still in the nascent stages of Wellness Tourism which holds great future potential in today’s times.
Taking a leaf or two from the age-old wisdom and traditions of India, wellness retreats today have built a holistic system that strives to create harmony between body, mind, and spirit for travellers seeking natural healing, spiritual guidance, a health recoup, and a complete detox in these trying times. Having evolved rapidly in recent years, the segment’s demand is on the surge, thank to the fatigue and refocus edged on by the global crisis. Coupled with serene natural offerings, spa treatments, organic diets, eco- friendly living, immunity boosting amongst countless other new innovative features, the
domain is quite the right fit for anyone seeking refreshment/rejuvenation.
As health takes precedence, the work from home phenomenon has greatly increased the traveller’s affinity towards natural healing practices, and outdoor therapy. The dual fatigue of managing one’s home and work in their living space has taken its toll on millions of Indians, especially amongst city dwellers. The emotional stress of being confined to one’s house coupled with lack of social connections has resulted in uptick of diseases like autoimmune disorders. Of late, some of the retreats are receiving 30-40% more inquiries seeking therapies to treat the disorder through ancient practices. Retreats in India have a huge potential to expand upon the same phenomenon, and many have built specially curated packages for guests to beat lockdown blues. 2021 has witnessed health-conscious travellers re-adjusting their focus on travel, post lockdown, to compensate for their year long hiatus. Proximity to nature has become the lifeline for most travellers in their quest for wellness and is greatly contributing towards promoting India’s evolving culture of ecofriendly retreats with a strong ‘glocal’ connect, offering something unique to every kind of traveller. To put things into perspective, Atmantan, an International Luxury wellness retreat backed by TFCI, experienced a great surge in business inquiries post the pandemic. The resort provides lifestyle improvement and health enhancement facilities to guests.
Traditionally, the majority of customers in this segment were aged between 35 years and 65 years seeking solace from their mundane work life. However, lately even those aged between 16-25 years, are ready to experience and wellness resorts are designing special packages for the young travellers. Furthermore, even Corporates are looking to give a morale boost to their employees, to help them bring a fresh new perspective to work and exclusive new age corporate packages are now being curated at various wellness retreats to tap this new segment. There is a rising interest for customised offerings
amongst the smaller cities (in states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, etc) and semi-urban places of India, signalling a very high potential for domestic visitors, within the segment. One also witnesses a rising wave of recurring customers who regularly schedule visits at the retreat, indicating that the sector has a very high repeat value. With many looking to refresh themselves, the target audience for this segment is now far and wide with a large untapped market which has suddenly burgeoned post lockdown.
The government is also trying to promote alternative systems of health and medicines through the Ministry of AYUSH, which can give a further boost to the lucrative opportunities in this sphere. To top it up, general insurance companies have started offering plans which cover AYUSH treatment to its customers. However, it is felt that the government can explore implementing uniform and well-defined regulations when it comes to wellness practitioners, to improve and standardise the quality of services. Further, regulations of setting up of a wellness centre is different from state to state. For example it is only recommendatory, and not mandatory, to register a wellness centre under the Bombay Nursing Act in Maharashtra.. Likewise, the Central Government recommends accreditation under the NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare) for the constituents in the wellness segment. It is imperative that unified regulations for establishing
and operating such wellness centres pan India shall help in standardisation of key customer deliverable.
India, known for its practices like yoga, meditation, naturopathy, ayurveda, panchakarma, etc. can truly lead from the front to develop this market for domestic as well as International wellness/fitness enthusiasts. With the resumption of air travel, India can pioneer a new landmark for this unique domain, with a capacity for high-quality, low touch and specialised accommodation, positioning the country as a global wellness tourism leader.
As Benjamin Franklin had long ago said “Out of adversity comes opportunity”.Covid-19 pandemic has yet again turned out to be one such adversity in the face of the entire human race. While the world returns to normalcy, India can offer the best wellness propositions in 2021, through the best-in-class offerings it can bring to the table and provide wellness enthusiasts their much-needed dose of nature, therapy, peace, stress relief and holistic healing.The journey for wellness has just begun.