Home quarantine and hand sanitiser, lockdown, working from home, and social distancing have been the motifs of the past year. But now that vaccines are available, 2021 may bring us hope and a chance to pack away the pandemic pyjamas and dust off our travel bags.
With personal health on everybody’s mind, wellness tourism is expected to be the biggest trend in travel in 2021. As governments across the world prepare to open their borders to visitors once more, the travel sector is gearing up to cater to an unprecedented demand for physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing packages.
At the recent Global Wellness Summit held in November, experts were predicting that the demand for wellness therapies may surpass that for medical treatments. “Wellness has become the cool kid on the block,” said Cecelia Girr, senior Strategist at Backslash, the cultural intelligence unit powered by advertising agency TBWA\Worldwide.
1. Long-term breaks
The pandemic and the resultant lockdown have forced many of us to slow down; we have changed the pace of our days. Instead of returning to the busy travel itineraries, they would have made prior to the pandemic, many travellers are expected to take things slow and sign up for extended stays at wellness retreats. Numerous holistic centres are offering packages with a minimum stay of 10 to 15 days, during which guests can opt for various treatments for stress management, weight loss, etc.
2. Immunity booster vacations
If there is something that 2020 has taught us, it is to stay relaxed, eat well and invest in personal health. Immunity booster vacations cater to these needs through socially distanced retreats offering a combination of power-packed meals and exercise, fine-tuned by a team of nutritionists and wellness experts. Some of the finest five star offerings include the Shanti Maurice Luxury Resort & Spa in Mauritius and Borgo Egnazia in Italy.
3. Stress and anxiety relief holidays
According to an article by Massachusetts General Hospital, the pandemic has aggravated mental conditions in patients living with depression and anxiety. Long periods in isolation, grief from the death of loved ones, loss of work, lack of social life and worries about getting infected have triggered a host of mental issues. 2021 will offer tourists the opportunity to escape from the stress and head to sunny shores where they can focus on improving their mental health. Some retreats offer meetings with in-house counsellors, meditation workshops and physical activities to boost the mood.
4. Nature escapes
Despite the availability of vaccines, social distancing is expected to continue into 2021, as people take the necessary precautions. If you are looking to leave behind the crowds, the world’s wildernesses are there for you. Holidays in remote eco-locations like jungles, private beaches and mountains are top choices for the wellness tourist looking to commune with nature. With sustainability, a major focus in the wake of the pandemic, green hotels and eco-resorts will be on many people’s bucket lists. Wellness centres will also be offering nature-therapy treatments to tap into the body’s self-healing abilities.
5. Fitness and weight loss holidays
With the closing of gyms, parks and swimming pools, many people have failed to keep up their daily fitness regimes. Social media witnessed a boom in exercise videos, flat-ab challenges and apps that promised to turn any room in your house into a workout space. But without an instructor keeping track, or the need to wear those slim-fit jeans, many people found they spent their days on the couch, working through their supply of packaged snacks. As the travel and entertainment sector reopens in 2021, a fitness holiday may be just what is needed to drop those pandemic pounds.
6. Family-friendly wellness breaks
When we think of wellness holidays, a solo experience most often comes to mind. However, for people with spouses, parents or children, planning a group wellness trip could help relieve some of that domestic stress built up from living at close quarters throughout 2020. Family-friendly wellness retreats offer a variety of experiences for both adults and children. Joining the kids in a morning yoga session is not only great physical exercise, but it might also become a new way to bond with them. Other activities include crafts, dance and music workshops.
7. Bio-hacking your way to optimal health
Taking self-care to the next level, bio-hacking is the wellness trend that started making headlines in 2020 and is expected to continue trending into 2021. A science-charged version of self-enhancement, biohacking, according to Tony Robbins’ website, is “changing our chemistry and our physiology through science and experimentation to energise and enhance the body”. It is based on determining the eating patterns and lifestyle best suited for the individual body type. When combined with a relaxing environment, it can offer the opportunity to detox and create a wellness routine through intermittent fasting, red light therapy, supplements and music therapy.
Wellness resorts that offer bio-hacking packages often have clinical experts in the field to guide and educate guests towards becoming the best version of themselves. For inspiration, check out the Brain Spa in Mexico and Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland.
8. Sustainable travel & eco-tourism
Sustainable living has been in the spotlight in 2020, as forest fires, floods and droughts made people more aware of the need to reduce their carbon footprint and be mindful of their environment. This has also affected tourism, which has witnessed a rise in sustainable businesses. Many global tourists are expected to consider environmental factors when it comes to their travel and stays. Already, wellness resorts have started adopting green business practices and encouraging their guests to enjoy walking and cycling trips during their holiday.
Costa Rica is a country that has long been admired for its efforts in pioneering sustainable travel and ecotourism.
9. Digital detox holidays
The rising dependence on smartphones has been a growing concern this past decade, and with most of us locked up in our homes, use of phones, laptops, smart TVs and other devices has surged. In 2021, travellers are expected to seek a break from their devices and connect with their surroundings. Digital detox holidays will provide environments where guests can choose to surround themselves with books and the sounds of nature rather than scrolling through social media. Letting go (even temporarily) of digital trappings calms the mind, gives the eyes a break and helps people take better control of their time.
10. Vegan friendly vacations
Whether the goal is to eat healthily or practice sustainability, vegan resorts are making their mark on the tourist map. In 2021, these businesses are expected to get a boost as the focus remains on wellness and health. Combining healthy eating with healthy exercise, several such centres offer cycle tours, yoga and spa treatments.