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HOLISTIC HEALTH AND BEAUTY SPAS SET TO BE AMONGST THE TOP TOURISM DESTINATIONS AS THAILAND LIFTS TRAVEL BAN ON SOUTH AFRICA

Wellness tourism set to take off amidst heightened awareness around wellbeing in the wake of the pandemic

18 October 2021: Successive stages of lockdown, compounded by stress related to the novel coronavirus have had a profound effect on the mental health of South Africans, according to Western Cape Minister for the Department of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez.This stark reality, coupled with the reopening of popular wellness destinations like Thailand and the exponential rate at which the global wellness tourism industry is expected to grow, infers that health and beauty spas will become vacation hotspots for South African travellers for the rest of 2021 and beyond.

This is the opinion of Chiravadee Khunsub, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, who comments: “the explosion of wellness tourism throughout the world, and in Thailand specifically, points to a renewed focus on general wellbeing, with preventative and alternative medicine becoming increasingly popular amongst people who want to use their travel experience to rejuvenate the body and the mind. Thai massages for example, promote relaxation, but also help restore the body and mind to a state of equilibrium, which has physiological benefits.”

Traditional Thai massages (“Nuad Thai”) have become synonymous with Thailand’s unique brand of wellness that has its roots in ancient healing arts. This form of massage involves bodily manipulation that is believed to assist with the flow of energy along lines that are present throughout the human body. This re-balancing assists with treating underlying issues that can materialise as physical and mental ailments.

“The link between physical wellbeing and mental health is being explored in more detail and we believe that awareness is the driver behind the success of the wellness tourism industry. This has been a turbulent time in history that has had a profound effect on people’s health and now more than ever, we’re expecting an influx of wellness tourists who want to address underlying conditions and who are in search of alternative healing methods as part of the experience of discovering new places and cultures,” said Khunsub.

In Thailand, there are three main categories of spas, each of which offers Thai massage. These include day spas that open daily and do not accommodate on-site stays, resort spas which form part of the amenities of a hotel, and destination spas, which provide a comprehensive service that caters to visitors who wish to spend an extended stay exclusively at a spa.