Medical Tourism to Double Throughout Latin American Over the Next 2 Years

The Global Wellness Tourism Congress (GWTC), a division of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) focused on charting the growth of the rapidly growing wellness travel sector, today released first-ever findings on the Latin American wellness travel market at the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) affiliate conference being held in Uruguay. The research, undertaken by SRI International for the GWTC, reveals that if the region’s wellness travel market is still in its relative infancy (representing $22 billion of the global market’s $439 billion USD) – a very strong growth story lies ahead.

The region (spanning Mexico/the Caribbean and Central and South America) will grow an impressive 13.4% annually through 2017 (to $42 billion USD) – nearly twice the projected growth rate for established market leaders Europe and North America. Only one global region (the Middle East) will grow faster. And the region’s top five fastest-growing markets, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, rank in the top 25 globally for wellness tourism growth through 2017.

Wellness tourism is defined as “all travel associated with enhancing one’s personal well-being,” and this data on Latin America is broken out from the GWTC’s “Global Wellness Tourism Economy” report, the first research to size and analyze this travel category that already represents one in seven of all tourist dollars.

Susie Ellis, Chairman & CEO of the GWI, presented the findings today at the first UNWTO conference on approaches that overcome tourism seasonality, and noted, “From Mexico, to all across Central and South America, this is an exciting wellness travel growth story to watch. The region has a unique resource that’s increasingly precious to our world: extensive, unspoiled nature and extraordinary destinations that marry eco, adventure and nature with wellness and spa. Additionally, the domestic market will grow as more people in the region will inevitably seek healthy living and prevention, as stress and chronic disease* rise.”

KEY FINDINGS

To view the breakdown for the top 16 Latin American nations for wellness travel (trips and expenditures, international vs. domestic travel, and wider economic impact), click here.

Expenditures: The Latin American wellness tourism market (domestic and international combined) is worth $22.4 billion USD annually, or roughly 5% of the $439 billion global market.

Trips: 31.7 million wellness-focused trips (inbound and domestic) are taken throughout the region each year, or roughly 6% of the global total of 524 million.

Top 5 Country Leaders (trips & annual expenditures in USD):

1) Mexico: 11.4 mil – $8.9 billion
2) Brazil: 5.3 mil – $2.2 billion
3) Argentina: 2.3 mil – $1.6 billion
4) Puerto Rico: 2 mil – $1.5 billion
5) Dominican Republic: 876 mil – $1.2 billion

Note that Mexico ranks #1 by strong margins: generating roughly twice as many annual trips, and four times more expenditures, than any other nation. And Mexico is a global leader: its $8.9 billion in yearly revenues ranks #10 for wellness tourism spend in the world.

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