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Wellness, an emerging market

The global wellness market is in great shape and is currently worth more than $4 trillion. What does it actually consist of? How can Mauritius tap into this market? Step into a peaceful, zen-like world.

Wellness, a whole concept

The word “wellness” is nowadays being widely used but the concept is nothing new. Ancient Greek, Roman and Asian civilisations already had a clear idea of what it was. Between the 1950s and 1970s, the writings of American doctors and thinkers have played an important role in shaping our understanding of wellness.

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. In other words, it is a journey of optimal health that goes beyond physical health to include mental, emotional, spiritual, environmental and social dimensions.

The wellness economy therefore includes industries that allow consumers to incorporate activities, choices and lifestyles leading to well-being into their daily lives. The GWI has identified ten segments to show the size of this economy (see box).

Focus on the local market

The term “wellness” has long referred directly to the spa industry in Mauritius. This is not surprising since the sector was and remains the most developed one on the island. “There are spas in all hotels as well as day spas in Mauritius, with leading brands and more authentic experiences,” says the Wellness & Spa Consultant, Hélène Cassan. It’s only in recent years that the real concept of wellness has emerged, with other sectors such as “fitness and mind-body practices” and “personal, beauty and anti-aging care” starting to grow.

However, financial (is the pursuit of holistic health accessible to all?) and cultural (eating habits, beliefs, etc.) barriers, among others, persist despite a certain recognition of the importance of global health. Some sectors like “workplace wellness” – an idea that has not yet permeated corporate culture – and “wellness real estate”, which requires riskier investments, are struggling to grow. “The wellness economy depends greatly on the awareness of individuals and institutions,” says Hélène.

A future in tourism?

The consultant firmly believes that the future of the Mauritian Destination lies in wellness. She has actually been working on this concept for over five years, especially with Heritage Resorts’ Wellness Weeks. It must be said that the island holds all the cards to offer a comprehensive wellness experience, including generous nature, a welcoming environment, local expertise, top-quality hotels and spas as well as hiking trails. “Travellers do not come to Mauritius specifically for wellness yet, but those who discover our experiences once they are here return home with a feeling of satisfaction,” she says.

Under Hélène’s initiative, Heritage Resorts has taken on the challenge of organising the first Mauritius Wellness Festival in 2019 with the support of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA). This regional first recorded a participation level that was somewhat below expectations but the feedback was very good. The emphasis will be placed on international business partnerships in 2020 to attract more travellers. “The key to getting things done more quickly would be to bring together all players in the wellness industry in order to speak with one voice,” says Hélène. In other words, unity is strength.

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