The Tobago Tourism Agency unveiled a new tourism strategy that will focus on wellness tourism, generating excitement in what projections show will be one of the fastest-growing tourism markets post-pandemic.

The Caribbean island, which attracted a record of 161,000 inbound visitors in 2019 according to GlobalData, views wellness tourism as a key strategy to rebuilding its tourism industry. The ambition is to attract higher-spending tourists while creating a unique position in the Caribbean tourism market. Wellness tourism is one of the fastest-growing tourist sectors worldwide. GlobalData projections show a global market CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 9% between 2021 and 2024, which the Tobago Tourism Agency is looking to exploit.

The strategy meets current consumer demand

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many individuals reevaluating their lives, with many gaining increased awareness of personal health, hygiene, healthy eating and mental wellbeing. These changes led to an accelerated shift in consumer behaviour. Wellness was already a key trend in the travel industry between 2009 and 2019, where trips for this purpose increased by 82%, according to GlobalData. Furthermore, in a Q1 2021 GlobalData consumer survey, 31% of global respondents said they were ‘always’ influenced by products that benefited their health and wellbeing, highlighting the positive sentiment towards wellness tourism.

The shift towards wellness tourism has come at a critical time for Tobago’s tourism industry, where inbound tourism plummeted by 69% in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to GlobalData statistics. However, Trinidad & Tobago’s economy is notably more robust than any other Caribbean island. It has much less reliance on tourism, resulting in a solid platform to build on its image and position in the market. Offering a niche product such as wellness tourism will give the island a clear brand identity to attract new tourists, ultimately providing it with a distinct competitive edge in the future.

If the strategy is executed well, wellness tourism will create numerous benefits for the Trinidad & Tobago tourism industry. The niche product alone will give a unique selling point against other Caribbean competitors. Judging by the Tobago Tourism Agency’s approach, it is looking to attract high spending tourists to help rebuild its tourism industry quickly. Wellness tourism will provide this as, on average, international wellness tourists spend 53% more than typical international tourists and domestic wellness tourists typically spend 178% more, according to a 2018 GWI (Global Wellness Institute) report.

Wellness tourism is a well-timed approach

The move from Tobago is a bold one but a decision that many other destination marketing organisations (DMOs) are still deciphering. Niche tourism such as wellness tourism has the power to create brand new markets and identity, but the risk is in the definition ‘Niche.’ The market size is limited and this is a challenge for Tobago. However, the Tobago Tourism Agency has picked the perfect time to build on this growing demand. As travel restrictions are starting to ease gradually, consumer behaviour will move towards products that offer more sustainable health benefits. Therefore, if this tourism strategy is implemented correctly, Tobago could see a significant tourism boom over the coming years.