Sub-Saharan Africa has become the world’s fastest growing region for wellness tourism in 2014, a new report by SRI’s International Global Spa and Wellness Monitor Summit (GSWM) revealed. Used to research and analyze the £439 billion worldwide wellness tourism industry that’s steadily becoming a major travel motivation as more and more people look for spa and well-being services when travelling.
Thailand and India lead the way for wellness tourism destinations, unsurprisingly with so many traditional popular Asian spa techniques that are now available across the globe. However, the last few years have seen a sharp increase in the African spa industry appeal, with the number of spas tripling since 2007 as the spa revenue increased by 184%.
The sub-Saharan region of Africa saw 4.2 million wellness tourists in 2013, a 90% increase from the previous year. Speculation into this boom in sale being due to both international travellers and a growth of the consumer class within Africa. As testimony to Africa’s blossoming industry, the GSWM Summit was held in Morocco this year, the first time on African soil.
By embracing the numerous healing traditions and natural ingredients that are indigenous to the continent, the sub-Saharan regions of Africa may create spa destinations that are unique and authentic. Leading British beauty brand Liz Earle makes their international spa debut this summer at Sasaab in Samburu, Kenya. The Moroccan influenced lodge sits above the Ewaso Nyiro River, in an area renowned for elephants and zebras.
Liz Earle, along with brands like Healing Earth, an African based company, are incorporating locally sourced ingredients such as the Kalahari melon or the mongongo nut into its products. With 54 African countries each housing unique healing rituals, richness and diversity, there is great potential for Africa to capitalise on their culture, instead of importing already popular Asian or European wellness techniques and industries into Africa.
South Africa, Kenya and the Seychelles lead in wellness tourism revenue for 2014, South Africa is a prime example of this rising economy booster that is steadily changing the way Africa may be viewed. KwaZula-Natel is a mountainous South African country renowned for its diverse climate and varied countryside. With one particular former 19th century farm in the KwaZula Natel landscape considered tranquil in its natural surroundings. What sets it apart however, is its authentic African treatments. Dr Ndlovu consults visitors on his product range based on Zulu plants, all of which are grown in the herb garden, with the clay harvested from the nearby White Mountains.
Just off the Swahili coast, Zanzibar is an Indian Ocean island that is synonymous with an established coral reef, sandy beaches and tropical winds. The Kilindi spa in Northern Zanzibar, Tanzania is one such market that has introduced the Swahili influenced therapy, carried out by East African technicians, fusing the high standard spa experience with the breath-taking landscape of Zanzibar’s beaches and scenery.
Mozambique, a country already established for its traditional culture, natural beaches and rich history, has also embraced the pampering industry, by, combining the Quirimbas Ocean with an Arabic and African spa experience. Introducing the indigenous fynbos from Moya, this heady combination of local herbs is intended to impart African energy, goodness and vitality. All these businesses have embraced and personalised the spa experience to embody the holistic healing methods native to their homeland.
To incorporate local traditions, methods and ingredients into spa and wellness institutions, allows the visitor to feel as though they have experienced the essence of that country. This demonstrates the importance of Africa’s immerging spa industry to merge its own values and methods with the wellness tourism trade that is set to expand even further in the coming years.
What are the productive aspects of wellness tourism and how might they be generating such growing appeal?