The agenda for the 2018 Arabian Travel Market’s Spa and Wellness Symposium is set, and the Global Wellness Institute-organised event will feature 16 tourism and hospitality experts presenting new wellness tourism trends globally and across the Middle East and North Africa.

A key focus this year will be on the shift from “experiential” to a more “transformative” wellness travel. To bring wellness approaches tangibly to life, the symposium will be held in an experiential theater, with numerous experts and master practitioners demonstrating everything from colour therapy to Ayurvedic medicine.

Attendees will also get a sneak preview of the GWI’s upcoming research on developments in the Middle East and North African wellness travel and spa markets, in advance of the 2018 Global Wellness Tourism Economy Monitor, which will be released at World Travel Market in London this November.

The 2018 symposium is part of an ongoing partnership between the Global Wellness Institute and Arabian Travel Market and World Travel Market. “The Wellness Showcase: Wellness Experiences & Travel Trends 2018” takes place Monday, April 23 from 2:30-5:30 PM in the ATM’s Showcase Theatre.

Speakers include Dr Maria Encarnacion Ridao Alonso, medical director at the Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre; Sharon Barcock, director of spa and fitness operations and development for Hilton in MEA; Dr Abhishek Jain, vice president of business development and operations for Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East for WTS International, and more.

“Wellness travel will continue to grow at a powerful pace: 7.5 per cent every year through 2020, or more than twice as fast as tourism overall,” said Susie Ellis, GWI chair and CEO. “We’re thrilled to again partner with ATM to share the most important wellness travel trends, and give the travel industry some bankable predictions for the future. In a few short years, wellness travel has become utterly mainstream and an incredibly competitive and creative market. Understanding shifts in the landscape is a must to understand travel in general, and its future in particular.”

Major trends that are heating up in wellness travel will be explored, with special attention paid to a macro shift underway from “experiential” to “transformative” wellness travel: what that means, the aspects of the trend, and how travellers now seek (and destinations are innovating) more emotional, life-changing journeys versus disconnected itineraries, classes and treatments.

The symposium will also feature experts from tourism organizations, including Linda Abdullah Ali Ruhi from Dubai’s Health Tourism Council and Carol Hay of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, sharing their strategies for attracting the healthy-minded tourist.

In early November, at the WTM in London, the Global Wellness Institute will release a complete update of its Global Wellness Tourism Economy report, providing all new data, trends and insight on worldwide markets – from figures on wellness trips and expenditures to the breakdown of international/domestic and primary/secondary wellness travellers to (for the first time) the average spending of primary and secondary wellness travelers in top-market countries.

Symposium attendees will get a sneak peek of their coming research for the MENA region, spotlighting interesting new wellness travel and spa developments from the UAE to Saudi Arabia to Tunisia.

Experts will present numerous body, mind and spirit experiences live on stage. For instance, Dr Abhishek Jain of WTS International will demonstrate popular ayurvedic modalities, while other master practitioners will showcase the new “smart” wellness screening and skin analyses, acupuncture, herbal medicine, tai chi, kung fu, colour and aromatherapy, sound/vibrational therapies like Tibetan singing bowls, and laughter yoga.