Here an interesting article on the spa and wellness industry – not exclusively Thai massage, but gives some interesting numbers and a good overview.
MANILA, Philippines—If the number of spa goers in the world mirrors the amount of stress people experience, then it is safe to declare that this is a stressful world to live in.
According to the study conducted by Euromonitor International (as provided by Cathy Turvill, president of Philippine Wellness and Spa Association), there are about 150 million active spa goers worldwide.
The figure was quoted from the International Spa Association’s (Ispa) 2007 study. Ispa represents 3,200 members, which include spas and product manufacturers in 83 countries.
While spas are very popular in Asia, especially where alternative medicine and treatments are on the rise, countries like Thailand (27.1 million) lags behind the United States with 32.2 million. However, the number of spa goers in the US accounts for only 10.7 percent of the population. In Europe, Italy leads the number of spa goers with 17.8 million, “which represented a substantial 30 percent of the population.”
The burgeoning of spas is being linked to the lifestyle many people lead. The world is getting more and more complex with people trying to catch up. The result is a stressful life that is also being linked to the different types of illnesses that plague the world. These are dubbed as “lifestyle diseases.”
That is why, it is no surprise that the leading reason of people going to spas is “relax and relive/reduce stress” as quoted in an updated study by Ispa last year. According to the study, in “11 of the 15 countries surveyed, overall wellness and health was one of the top three reasons consumers visit a spa.”
Spa has become synonymous with peace and serenity, which has become a luxury in this stress-driven world. With the pressure of deadlines and the strain of dealing with difficult co-employees, there is no denying that being stress-free is a state of mind that one has to master. But massages and an hour of emptying the mind can go a long way.
Other reasons respondents gave in going to spas include health (recommended by physician), beauty, detox and stress management, anti-aging and healthy skin, increase self-esteem and confidence, pain management, and a treat to self or others on special occasions.
“The Ispa’s 2007 Global Consumer Report revealed that massage was by far the most popular treatment in the US, with 63 percent of spa goers having received massages in the last year.” Surprisingly, this was followed by “manicure (57 percent) and pedicure (56 percent). This probably explains the escalating number of nail salons even in the Philippines.
If saunas and steam bath elicit negative impressions in the country, spa goers in Europe rate them as one of the most popular types of treatment in spas. “These ranked first among consumers in Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Austria, and in some cases accounted for as many as 70 percent of spa goers.”
Notice the absence of the United Kingdom in the list. This type of treatment is also popular in Japan. Otakus, or Japanese animation fans, attest to the fact that many animes have a scene or two that feature locals relaxing in saunas and public steam baths. It is also their way of socializing and bonding with families and friends.
The study lists Shiatsu massage as one of the most popular treatments accounting for 44 percent together with aromatherapy with 21 percent. “In Thailand, the most demanded treatment was reflexology (65 percent) followed closely by Thai massage (62 percent),” it says.
Because spa is linked to serenity (at least for a while), it has become a huge feature in tourism and attracting visitors. Have you ever wondered why Bali in Indonesia is a popular destination for people who want to have a quiet vacation? Along with the beautiful tourist spots are the spas and treatments it has to offer.
In the Philippines, spas come and go. Only the established few managed to stay and flourish. The spa industry is replete with different types and services. There are the traditional spas, non-thermal spas, luxury spas, day spas, retail spas, and the recently launched “dental spa,” to which no specific definition or description is established yet.
Medical spas somehow help in promoting medical tourism. According to Ispa, “medical spas represent the fastest-growing type of spa. It claims the number of medical spas increased by as much as 85 percent between 2007 and 2008.” Medical spas require licensed healthcare professionals. Medical spa is a fusion of spa treatments and cosmetic or beauty services such as “botox, microdermabrasion and other specialized services.”
The one thing that probably links many spas in the world these days is the use of natural ingredients, which is the growing trend. “There has been a strong trend towards the use of natural products such as organic ingredients, products which are more environmentally friendly or those that use indigenous plants from local environments,” Ispa states.
The spa industry is rapidly growing. But like any other business, this industry may also be affected by how the economy fares. At present, spas in the country are increasing but services vary. Turvill advises that people who want to experience a true relaxing experience (and not an added worry because of expensive treatments), always go to tried and tested spas. There is nothing more stressful than being shortchanged or robbed of the treatment a person really wanted.