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Take Your Healthiest Safari Yet: Wellness Tourism Unpacked

Updated: Jul 25, 2023


For most of us, going on holiday in the pre-covid era meant taking time to kick back and indulge to reward ourselves for working so hard. We would treat ourselves wherever possible, enjoy bounties of delicious food and wine, skip our gym sessions, opting to rather put our feet up and sip cocktails at sunset. But times are changing. In the post-pandemic world, our lives have been so drastically upended and transformed, it has not only changed the way we live, think and interact… It is also changing the way we travel. Rather than treating themselves with indulgence, post-pandemic travellers are looking to spoil themselves with balance and well-being.

Undeniably, the last few years have been one of the greatest challenges we have faced globally. As businesses crashed, loved ones were lost and the world came to a near standstill, the long-term stress caused severe declines in global mental health and overall wellbeing. However, despite the strains faced over the past few years, people are emerging post pandemic, more health-conscious and wellbeing focused than ever before, exploring new ways to uplift and foster their holistic wellness.

One technique people are adopting to care for their mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing is by travelling. Not only are people desperate to traverse the globe after intensive travel restrictions and lockdown regulations, they are looking to contribute to their personal wellbeing whilst on the move, thus rebuilding the niche travel industry of Wellness Tourism.


Existing as a unique intersection of two massive global industries of tourism (valued at $2.6 trillion) and wellness (valued at $4.5 trillion), wellness travel is a rapidly growing phenomenon. During the pandemic, the Wellness Tourism Sector fell from $720 billion to $435 billion—an enormous 39.5%—between 2019 and 2020 (versus 43% for all tourism). However, in the post-covid period it is now making an astonishing comeback! Currently valued at $542 Billion (2022) the industry is estimated to reach $1.32 Trillion by 2030, equating to a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.8% (2022-2030).


As you can see, there are great prospects for Wellness Tourism on the horizon and its growth has already begun. But what is wellness tourism and how does it fit into the Southern Africa Safari context? There is a good chance that you have already taken a wellness trip and not even realised it, and if you haven’t yet, I am going to show you what it’s all about and how you can curate a wellness Safari for yourself or your clients today!


The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) describes wellness tourism as arising from the travellers desire to enhance or maintain one’s personal wellbeing through travel. Encompassing a range of components - including healthy foods, physical activity, nature immersion, self-development, and volunteering - each value add may be combined to curate an itinerary unique to each individual. Depending on the desired outcome of the traveller, the itinerary can be primarily motivated by wellness, namely yoga retreats, or it can be any kind of trip where select wellness activities, such as a yoga session or a massage, are added to elevate the overall experience.


One of the main reasons for the rapid growth of the Wellness Tourism Sector is due to the appeal to a diverse range of individuals. In a report produced by ‘Wellness & Destinations’, of the wellness travellers surveyed, 56% were female, and 56% were married or in a partnership. In addition, wellness travel attracts a broad range of ages (not just the young as originally thought) with 48% aged 36-50, 25% aged 51-65, and 17% under the age of 34. Furthermore, when examining the budget of the wellness traveller, there is an ever increasing range from low-cost to high end, indicating potential to reach a greater variety of wellbeing seekers – not exclusively a wealthy clientele as presumed in the past.

Based on these findings, the current target market for wellness travel is predominantly young, partnered women (aged 36-50) with a diverse budget range. However, as the industry grows in popularity and evolves over time, the demographics will adjust accordingly.


A common misconception about wellness travellers is that they are a small, exclusive and wealthy group of leisure tourists visiting destination spas and resorts. As you have seen above, wellness travellers are a more diverse group of consumers with many motivations, interests and values. When working to incorporate Wellness into your itinerary, (for yourself or your client), it is vital to understand the goals of the traveller.

GWI identifies two types of wellness travellers:

  1. The primary wellness traveller - Motivated by wellness and selects their destination for the sole focus of uplifting personal wellness through a transformative wellness experience (retreats).

  2. The secondary wellness traveller - Aims to maintain their wellbeing for the duration of their trip by enjoying wellness value adds such as a yoga class, massages, gym facilities and healthy meals.

Understanding whether you or your client is a primary or secondary wellness traveller is vital to the overall satisfaction from their trip, as the structure of the itinerary for the two different groups varies drastically. For example, the primary traveller may request daily inclusions of a morning fitness class, a wellness workshop, a spa treatment, and an evening yoga session; versus the secondary traveller who may only include daily morning yoga and one massage for the duration of their whole trip.


As a destination, Africa shows some of the greatest promise for the wellness tourism sector. In 2018 GWI report it is expected that wellness tourism in the sub-saharan region would grow 50 percent faster than the rest of the tourism industry over that five-year period.

Combining rich nature and meditative beauty, with regionally diverse traditional wellness trends, Africa provides unique wellbeing experiences for both local and international tourists. With a range of remote destinations, travellers are able to truly disconnect from the stresses of day-to-day life, whilst experiencing nature at its purest on Safari.

In modern society, heightened connectivity through social media and work-from-home lifestyles have increased the need to disconnect. By immersing themselves in nature on Safari, travellers are afforded the rare opportunity to reconnect with themselves whilst learning from the world around them and the preserved cultures within it.


Catering to the needs of the post-pandemic traveller, we put the Wellness in Wellness Travel, allowing local safari operators, camps and their teams to focus on doing what they do best; creating the most memorable moments on Safari. Victoria Falls Yoga is here to help you tap into the Wellness Tourism Market by offering visitors to Southern Africa a range of Bespoke Wellness Experiences including:

- Yoga Classes

- Wellness Guiding

- Wellness Safari Retreats

- Conservation Wellness Safaris

- Corporate Group Yoga & Wellness

To find out more on how we can help you uplift your wellbeing and that of your clients, get in touch today to schedule a free exploration call.

Visit our Website -

Connect with us on Instagram & Facebook - @victoriafallsyoga

Email Kerrith -

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