Kerala, the hot-spot destination for Ayurveda Tourism

Global Wellness tourism is a $640 billion industry and it is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 7.5% to $919 billion in 2022.  While Yoga has become very popular across the world, Ayurveda is just catching up rapidly. In 2018, Ayurveda sector saw a landmark achievement, touching a gross market size of $ 4.4 billion and it is projected to record a CAGR of 16% until 2025. Through this article, Vijay Kumar Karai, explores the growth of Ayurveda as a tourism destination in Kerala and how this ancient treatment method will woo foreign investments for the country and the state.

Ayurveda Tourism in India

Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old natural healing system that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. Of late, Ayurveda has been enjoying a major resurgence throughout the world. Kerala in India has been a pioneer in promoting Ayurveda and this small wedge-shaped state is seen to be practicing this system of medicine with absolute dedication. Today, it is a hub of Ayurveda Tourism in the world map.

Ayurveda goes Global

Due to its authenticity and traditional value, Ayurveda is now spreading across the world and is being offered as a spa treatment in various wellness retreats & hotels all over the world. Sri Lanka, an island nation with beautiful beaches and tropical climate is known to be highly suitable for Ayurveda’s curative and restorative therapies. Thus, this island country is rapidly gaining momentum as a favourite destination for Ayurvedic retreats, especially among the Europeans. Wellness retreats in Bali, Thailand and other East Asian countries also offer Ayurveda as a treatment and rejuvenation therapy among their many wellness packages. Ayurveda, is also becoming very popular in European countries like Germany, Italy and Spain apart from UAE, USA, Canada and Costa Rica.

Today, Ayurveda is offered in large retreats and resorts across the world as a delightful collection using pure natural ingredients for beauty as well as for  indulging in pampering the body, mind and soul. International hotel chains such as Six Senses, Taj, Oberio, Jet wings, etc have now embraced Ayurvedic treatments in a holistic way.

Ayurvedic offerings

Ayurvedic offerings range from general massages like Abhyanga and relaxing Shirodhara that lasts for 1 to 2 hours, detoxification (Panchakarma), rejuvenation, weight loss (lasts 1-3 weeks), anti-ageing and beauty programs. These are extremely popular wellness procedures in Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic treatments for beauty, wellness and ailments (obesity, arthritis, diabetes and preventive cancer) focus on curing the root cause by cleansing the channels, strengthening and balancing the internal system. This holistic approach of Ayurveda is offered in all reputed and verified centres across India.

Ayurveda as Medical Tourism

Ayurvedic wellness travellers are typically categorized in two types: the primary wellness traveller who travels with the primary purpose of wellness and the secondary wellness traveller whose travel plans include various wellness activities — spas, health resorts, yoga retreats. Those who understand Ayurveda and its principles of holistic management of preventive cure turn to Ayurveda as their first choice of treatment for serious conditions like Arthritis, Diabetes, Rheumatism, Parkinson’s and post-chemo management etc.

Ayurveda offers powerful solutions to many of the above said lifestyle health issues and thus people across the world are turning to Ayurveda to help them combat various ailments and health issues.  Customers from India and other countries have benefitted vastly from Ayurveda. Some of the other treatments offered by Ayurveda include:

  • Post cancer rejuvenation program
  • Depression
  • Back pain
  • PCOD
  • Infertility
  • Sexual Wellness (Vajee Karna)

Another feather in the cap for Ayurveda is that now Ayurveda treatments have insurance cover especially for people in India. On special cases, some customers from Europe too have been able to get insurance coverage once certified by GP that Ayurveda is essential for treatment.

The Customer Dilemma

Although Ayurveda is becoming increasingly popular world-wide with a lot of centers claiming to offer authentic Ayurveda, customers are in a dilemma on choosing the right centers. The wellness offerings by various wellness centers and retreats are also seen to vary a lot in their practices and treatment modules.Thus, the search for the authentic Ayurveda centre has become confusing and tedious. Ayurveda, today is offered by simple authentic ayurvedic hospitals to 5-star luxury resorts and a host of other places. Thus, the confusion about the true and authentic Ayurveda treatment offered still lingers.

Industry Efforts

Tourism ministries of countries like India and Sri Lanka are hosting a lot of efforts to promote authentic Ayurveda in a big way. Research conducted by Ministry of Ayush, FRLHT and many others have helped authenticate the benefits of Ayurveda. Accreditation of Ayurvedic Hospitals by NABH (National Accreditation Board of Hospitals) by Ministry of AYUSH, Certification by Kerala Tourism of various Ayurvedic resorts, etc have immensely helped bring some focus to this system.

Ayurveda Tourism is poised to grow at high double-digit levels in the coming years as increasing number of resorts and hotels across the world are likely to adopt Ayurveda as one of their first choice of wellness offerings. Some of the key factors favouring the market growth include, increasing demand for natural and organic products, expanding medical tourism across the globe, rising consumer awareness and growing demand for ayurvedic product. In addition to expanding consumer base, rising consciousness towards a healthy lifestyle are anticipated to fuel the market growth. Moreover, practical developments in ayurvedic medicines will offer great investment opportunities for players in the market.

Stand-alone Ayurvedic Retreats are gaining the confidence of the market in various parts of the world such as Europe, America, etc. Given the excellent health benefits that Ayurveda has, it is only a matter of time before Ayurveda and Ayurveda Tourism becomes the mainstream focus to global audience as Yoga is today.

Vijay Kumar Karai

Founder & CEO


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