BUSINESSES in Scotland could grow by tapping into the increasingly lucrative “wellness” market, according to tourist chiefs.

The so-called wellness breaks are identified as having “huge” potential for businesses in the tourist industry.

A report drawn up by national tourism organisation, VisitScotland, points out that wellness tourism was valued globally at £500bn in 2017 and has grown more than twice as fast as tourism overall, with more and more visitors looking for holidays where they can improve their health or creativity.

Wellness travellers have also been found to be high-spending tourists, with international wellness tourists spending 53% more per trip than the typical international tourist. The premium for domestic wellness tourists is even higher -178% more than the average domestic tourist, according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI).

Many countries are increasingly marketing wellness as part of their product portfolio, with over 100 nations using the concept last year.

As a result, the VisitScotland report has identified wellness tourism as one of the trends for 2019 and is encouraging tourism businesses to use Scotland’s natural assets such as its culture, landscapes, and food and drink to appeal to the growing market.

“Wellness tourism is a trend that’s not going away and is expected to continue growing,” said Chris Greenwood, senior insights manager at VisitScotland. “With wellness travellers found to be very high-spending, high-yield tourists, there is huge potential for businesses who want to appeal to this market, creating experiences that enlighten the senses and feed the soul. Fortunately, Scotland’s ability to embrace wellness within our visitor economy is embedded within our tourism industry DNA.”

He added: “Tourism is more than a holiday experience - it is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy and touches every community, generating income, jobs and social change.”

The report suggests ways businesses could market wellness such as through “restorative recreation” which would focus on Scotland’s world-famous landscapes, scenery and outdoor activities.

Creative retreats are another way to promote wellness breaks and could concentrate on the role of hobbies and skills development through writing workshops, artists’ retreats, outdoor survival schools and cookery courses.

Or businesses could promote “trav-agogy” by highlighting the journey of visitors rather than the overall destination and giving them the chance to immerse themselves in the local culture and learn about the places they visit.

Green getaways could also be developed, the report suggests, as more tourists now appreciate the impact travel can have on the environment and are looking at ways to offset this while still achieving the experiences

they desire.

“There is an opportunity for tourism businesses to demonstrate their own practices or demonstrate how they can support their visitors’ objectives,” the report states.

The report points out that Scotland has promoted wellness breaks since Victorian times with spa hotels around the country offering to restore the health of visitors.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the country was well placed to continue the trend.

“2019 looks to be another exciting year for tourism with this new paper highlighting the potential for businesses to invest in experiences which are beneficial for people’s health and wellbeing,” she said.

“Whether it’s our fantastic scenery which is encouraging people to experience our great outdoors, or activities like cookery workshops or outdoor retreats which are helping to develop people’s skills, it’s clear that Scotland really does have something for everyone.”