Should You Provide Wellness Tourism Services?

Wellness tourism is on the rise. This blog discusses what wellness tourism is and what it isn’t. It also provides a few examples of existing wellness retreats and finally, it covers the advantages businesses can reap from investing in the sector or including wellness adaptations to their existing attractions.

What is Wellness Tourism?

According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), wellness tourism is “travel (that is) associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing“. Often confused with medical tourism, wellness tourism is not concerned with combatting poor health or curing illnesses but is the proactive measure of preventing diseases, reducing stress, and promoting overall wellbeing.

Examples of Existing Wellness Tourism Attractions

Below are a few short descriptions of wellness tourism attractions.

Sand Baths

Under the hot sun of the Moroccan desert, with sand temperatures reaching 80° C, wellness tourists are burying themselves neck-deep into the sand in search of health benefits. The heat of the dry sand absorbs any excess moisture from their bodies, cleansing them and removing toxins in the process. The baths or “hammams” are also known to cure joint pains and help with bone diseases.

Walking Yoga Safaris

These occur either in the wilderness of African game park reserves or in concealed remote village outskirts. Walking Yoga Safaris are usually full-day excursions that center around meditation and yoga amid natural elements. Travelers are enveloped with a feeling of togetherness with the life they feel around them, be it greenery or wild animals. 

In this wellness activity, the day starts with a sunrise meditation session around a natural landmark (a riverbank, the African savannah, or a lakeside). Then, a light breakfast is had, followed by a walk into the wilderness accompanying wildlife tracking experts. Later as the weather becomes hot, the guests are led back to their cottages for lunch and some rest. 

In the early evening, visitors embark on another yoga/meditation session. Afterwards, they embark on another guided walk into nature and conclude by watching the sunset and gathering around a fire to chat and watch the stars.

Nordic Wellness Retreats

Drawing from the ancient wisdom of Nordic culture, Nordic wellness retreats aim to connect the mind and body with nature. Found all over Europe and not just Nordic countries, programs include various activities such as hiking in the forests, saunas sessions, dips in hot tubs, and lake swims. These activities are usually paired with dietary provisions such as traditional treatments (known for their healing capabilities), wild forage, and fresh game meals. 

Individuals can engage in group retreats or isolate themselves and enjoy the region’s vast and open, quiet spaces. The latter option is made abundantly available in the private island cabins of Sweden, where individuals have a whole mini-island to themselves.

Furthermore, with the rise of the Wim Hof wellness program, individuals opting for a Nordic retreat may have the chance of meeting the Iceman himself and learning straight from the source about the now popular breathing and ice-emersion techniques.

The Value of the Wellness Tourism Sector and the Wellness Tourist

Combining the buying power of the highly profitable tourism and wellness industries, wellness tourism is a force to be reckoned with. Between 2015 to 2017, the growth rate of wellness tourism was twice the growth rate of regular tourism. The industry is still rapidly growing and is predicted to reach $919 billion this year, according to the GWI.

Furthermore, the wellness traveler is known to be a high spending traveler type. According to the Director of Research at GWI, Beth McGroarty, wellness travelers spend 178% more than the average traveler on domestic trips and 53% more on international trips.

Equinox Explore, Equinox’s brand extension into the wellness tourism sector, provided a four-day running tour in Florence for a cost that began at $2,350 in 2020. This was the cheapest of the experiences offered by the company then. The most expensive experience for that year was a six-day hiking trip in Morocco which started at $6,250.

Shifts in the Travel Industry

Destinations are beginning to employ a strategy that attracts a reasonable number of wellness tourists at high holiday prices instead of the large crowds of middle-class tourists typically needed to drive profits. Doing this reduces the adverse effects of mass tourism. It prevents the race-to-the-bottom style pricing strategies that occur when businesses have to compete for a travelers patronage of their product or service. 

Furthermore, wellness offshoots can be set up in a primarily leisure locations as a secondary attraction to attract visitors in low-traffic seasons. A ski resort, for instance, would reap the benefits of setting up spas and mountain yoga retreats in the summer seasons. Thus, making a profit out of their downtime.

Wellness Traveler Demographics and Categories

Even though wellness travelers can be comprised of many different demographics, the majority seem to be highly educated and affluent females between the ages of 30 and 60 years. A further categorization divides these travelers into two divisions—primary wellness travelers, who travel solely for the purpose of wellness. And secondary wellness travelers who travel for leisure or business and happen to make wellness pit stops. These groups, however, are not mutually exclusive. For example, a primary wellness traveler can be a secondary wellness traveler on their current trip and then become a primary wellness traveler on the next. However, it’s worth noting that primary wellness travelers account for only 14% of wellness tourism spending, whereas secondary wellness travelers make up for 86%.

Wellness Tourism and Complementary Business Opportunities

Wellness travelers (especially seasoned ones) usually uphold a certain kind of lifestyle. A lifestyle that involves a specific dietary makeup, mind/body activities, and at times even a particular taste in fashion. Therefore, when a wellness traveler engages in a holiday in your destination, they not only put money into the retreat’s pocket, but they also help by contributing to the country’s/region’s GDP through purchases they make to maintain their lifestyle. This opens the door for destinations and surrounding businesses to capture more value from the wellness traveler by delivering more differentiated and targeted products and services.

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and destination representation company in the Middle East. We specialize in directing the Arab traveler to your destination or region. With over 60 years of experience in the field of travel representation, we’ve solidified a sturdy network of travel agencies, airlines, hotels and much more. With our electric mix of marketing activities, there isn’t a surer way to attract Arab travelers to your destination. 

To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at

The Importance of Arab Travel Bloggers

What is a Travel Blogger?

A travel blogger is a type of travel influencer whose output is usually limited to blogs, photographs, and at times, vlogs. Essentially, a travel blogger will either have their own website where they post reviews for travel based services and destinations, or they will contribute pieces to another travel website similar to how a travel writer would. What distinguishes travel bloggers from the usual travel influencer is their story-telling ability. At times it may not even seem to the reader that they are reading a review, and that’s the mark of a good travel blogger: the service being reviewed or even the destination itself becomes secondary to the story. These writers’ ability to create such alluring pieces with your destination as the background setting is often what magically convinces travelers to engage with your brand. Travel bloggers have already established traffic directed towards their website, and they lead those viewers to pay attention to your brand or service. Read on as we discuss the benefits an Arab travel blogger can present to your brand.

What’s the Difference Between Travel Bloggers and Travel Influencers?

Simply put, a travel blogger curates subjective content that is rich in-depth and they tend to spend more time on trips researching and digging for details and stories. In contrast, a travel influencer is more visual in their delivery and more prompt. In addition, a travel influencers main channel for reaching their target audience is usually a social media platform such as Instagram, whereas a travel blogger will own their own website. Furthermore, travel bloggers are a dying breed and are harder to find, whereas their “visual-storyteller” cousins are higher in numbers.

Websites Vs. Social Media Platforms

Websites are more organized and easier to navigate as an alternative to social media platforms. An individual searching for African destinations reviewed by their favourite influencer, for example, will have to manually sift through said influencers social media accounts or hope that the influencer categorized their posts through the use of hashtags. With a website, however, it’s as simple as clicking on the “travel destinations” tab and then selecting the Africa sub-section from a selection of the available continents.

Many other navigational features such as finding links to relevant service providers/travel vendors, or even to a destination’s website are easily accessible on travel bloggers’ websites. Furthermore, as websites are search focused and social media platforms are not, a single blog reviewing a location will continue to show up on Google’s search results years from its post date, whereas with social media sites, posts and content have a short lifespan and can easily be buried. The obvious exception is YouTube which with the aid of its algorithm will oftentimes push years old content on to viewers even when that content has not been searched for.

Arab Travel Bloggers

At any rate, the modern influencer is tech-savvy and usually doubles as their own media and video editing team. Therefore it’s not too far fetched to find a travel influencer who does both social media and travel blogging. In this blog, however, we focus exclusively on travel bloggers and why it’s important that your travel blogger be Arab if you are attempting to attract Arab travelers. 

1) Language

Not all Arabs speak English, and although the ones that travel regularly will most likely have good spoken English, it may very well be the fact that they are more comfortable using their Arabic mother tongue — especially when searching online. Arab travel bloggers offer the benefit of reaching your target market through the language they are most comfortable with.

2) Arab Travel Bloggers Have Similar Tastes and Habits to the Average Arab

Although not all Arabs are the same, they do have one common denominator, and that is Islam. Whereas a European or American traveler can cover the same destinations an Arab traveler would want to enquire about, their coverage will be lacking in that there will be many unanswered questions pertaining to an Arab.

For example, an Arab would likely want to know about the availability of Halal food, or the presence of separate gender facilities. An Arab Travel Blogger will adequately cover these interest points. For more on the Muslim Arab travelers behaviour and preferences read our blog on adapting to the Muslim Arab traveler.

3) There is Power in Resemblance

Shared characteristics and personal similarities are the cornerstones of attraction. According to Psychology Today, we are attracted to people who resemble us. Further to that, there are two kinds of similarities, they are “shared similarities” or actual similarities, and “perceived similarities” or simply believing someone is similar to you. Perceived similarities can be proven to be false, but when they aren’t — by virtue of the perceived person never being happened upon in real life (as is the case with most travel bloggers) then the liking of that individual from onlookers – or readers in this case, is incredibly high. In addition: people with shared similarities experience less liking of each other than the liking they would feel for someone with perceived similarities that they never meet.

Why is the above important? Because rapport is a prerequisite to influence, and with the right influencer you can rest assured that your marketing efforts as are as potent as can be.

Gulf Reps

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East, with over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents, delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships, paired with an eclectic mix of marketing channels, makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at

Selecting the Right Travel Influencer for Your Brand

Travel influencers are great for reaching the right audience and influencing and swaying travel zeitgeists and trends. As businesses start to allocate larger budgets to influencer marketing, influencers are increasing in number as well. In this blog, we provide several parameters to help narrow your search when selecting travel influencers.

What are Travel Influencers?

Travel influencers are individuals with large active followings (usually on digital media) who produce travel content. Their content informs travelers and generates leads for travel destinations. The fact is, people know that they want to travel and experience something new. But they don’t know where to go. That is why taste-makers like travel influencers are essential for any tourism board or brand who want their share of travelers. Further to that, travel influencers can influence their followers to use a particular travel agent or engage with certain products and services during a journey. 

What do Travel Influencers Do?

Travel influencers travel to destinations and share their experiences with their followers. Their feedback is usually accompanied by rich visual content such as pictures, videos or vlogs. Ultimately, however, the primary identifier of an influencer isn’t the number of travel destinations they’ve covered or the number of followers they have. It is more about how influential they are when it comes to making their followers take action — be it clicking on a website, filling out a survey, or even traveling to the intended destination. An influencer’s relationship with their community is vital.

Segmentation and Targeting

Usually, travel influencers target a particular traveler segment and demographic. Often, this demographic resembles the influencer the most. For example, a family travel influencer will have a family of their own whom they’ll include the feedback and experiences of when it comes to producing content for other similar families. Other than that, travel influencers come in all shapes and sizes, likes and dislikes. From teenage travel influencers to couples, thrill-seekers to senior citizens, and oddly enough, even a 1-year-old baby traveler

Essentially, travel influencers cut through all the advertising noise and over-promotion that frequently occurs today. That is because they are seen as unbiased and trustworthy sources of information. Travel influencers are trusted because their whole reputation depends on the authenticity of their reviews. Should they engage in any unfair promotion, their career can go up in flames. Although they do receive monetary incentives and free trips (in exchange for their coverage of an area), there is an unwritten contract between the influencer and the brand. It implies that the influencer will share their explicit and unfiltered opinion about the travel destination, even if it is negative. The travel influencers’ contract with society is to provide accurate insights into the advantages and disadvantages of each destination from the viewpoint of an actual customer. Often these influencers serve as the litmus test to whether an excursion is really worth the fuss or not.

The Different Kinds of Travel Influencers

There are many kinds of travel influencers. Here we’ll cover three. The trickster, the celebrity, and the specialist.

The Trickster

Your hotel gets a call from a travel influencer who offers to review your hotel for his many followers and he wants to bring his friends to test the experience with him. You investigate his social media accounts and it becomes evident that this influencer really means business. Examples of other hotels he has covered are scattered all across his Instagram account. His follower count is high, ridiculously high. So you make a deal with the influencer and buy tickets for him and his friends and they pay you a visit.

Weeks later the influencers review is up and to your amusement it’s highly favorable. What seems to be a good deal to you was in actuality a scam, and it is highly unlikely that this influencer’s review will drive any bookings for your hotel.

Firstly, the other hotels that were covered on the “influencers” page were previous victims. The high follower count? Bots that were programmed to create fake social media accounts that follow and like the trickster’s account and content.

The Celebrity

These individuals are already famous by virtue of their profession. They include actors, musicians, sportsmen, and even internet icons. When their followers display characteristics of the right demographic, the celebrity is considered when selecting travel influencers.

The Specialist

Just like any travel influencer, this individual will engage in an experience with your brand, and then proceed to review it online. This entrepreneurial breed of influencers distinguish themselves from the rest by a few things.

Firstly they will attempt to arrange discounts for the portion of their followers who decide to engage with your brand. The way that this is done is by the creation of a code. For example “Travel2021.” Then they will ask you to provide a set discount for any individual who uses this code when purchasing your service/product. This way you can track the efficacy of that influencer’s review by counting the number of bookings/purchases they helped you achieve.

Further to that this influencer type has a systematic approach to their content creation. First, they produce content about your brand/destination before their arrival in order to build anticipation among their followers. Then they produce content during their trip, and lastly, the third batch is produced once they have left. The final version is where their full review and follower code are found.

Converting this kind of influencer into an advocate can prove to be a strategic advantage. If their experience with your brand proves to be highly favorable their praises for it may extend well beyond your deal with them. This may come in the form of unexpected lip service or an answer to a question such as “Which hotel would you recommend for a week in XYZ?” Essentially, with this kind of influencer, you are dealing with an opinion leader, and one positive experience on their end could translate to a lifetime of positive word of mouth for you.

Selecting Travel Influencers

Below is a quick checklist you can use in selecting travel influencers that will yield the highest return on investment.

1) Go Micro

Suppose your brand provides trips for Arab families from the Middle East. Simply opting for any family influencer who seems to know what they’re talking about isn’t going to be sufficient. For example, a European family travel influencer will enjoy an evening out wine tasting on the hills of Italy while their children explore the vineyards. An Arab family, however, who more often than not are Muslim, will shrivel at the thought of taking their children with them to see a vineyard. In this case, a Muslim family travel influencer would be ideal. 

Furthermore, a senior couple whom children don’t accompany will have a much different idea of what constitutes a vacation than those who do have children. It’s therefore imperative to be clear on all the specifics before selecting travel influencers. You can segment even further by targeting the actual decision-makers in a family when it comes to travel destination selection. According to data, mothers are the key decision-makers when it comes to Middle Eastern families. So, in this case, a married female Muslim travel influencer who has children would be optimal. 

Click on the following link to learn more about who makes travel decisions in the Arab household. To formulate a clear influencer marketing plan, you need to obtain precise data on who exactly your ideal market is or would be. Gulf Reps’ network of travel agencies can provide you with precisely that kind of competitive edge.

Going micro with your influencer marketing efforts is the most effective way to grow your conversions (or the number of individuals who do end up booking a trip). Going micro is also one of the reasons it would be wise to select influencers with medium-sized followerships.

2) Choose the Middle Ground When Selecting Travel Influencers

Travel influencers who truly create content for a micro niche will seldom have extremely high follower counts. The connection between these influencers and their followers is, however, highly potent. It is akin to a community of like-minded individuals who share similar lifestyles and values—a community with the influencer at its head as an opinion leader.

Influencers who veer off into the deeper end of the followership pool and start to reach millions of followers will have most likely fallen off track from their initial niche. This happens when they begin to target a larger and more generic market. This translates to less influence as that community feeling that comes with more targeted niches starts to disintegrate. Famous travel influencers such as these will come at a high price and a long list of demands should they agree to work with you. A hefty bill for an ineffective campaign is highly unfortunate. 

If you decide that selecting high follower count influencers is the most suitable course of action for you, then be wary of influencers with massive fake followings.

3) Choose an Influencer You Do Not Mind Being Associated With

It is absolutely essential to very deeply research potential influencers and their history before engaging in any form of communication with them. Influencers can quickly become strongly associated with your brand in viewers’ minds. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that a proposed influencer does not engage in any off-brand activities. 

The frightening part of influencer marketing is that you’re associating your brand with someone else’s personal brand. If that person experiences lapses in judgment, it could reflect badly on your business. Therefore it can be hazardous to partner with dangerously eccentric influencers unless of course, your brand itself carries with it unconventional undertones.

4) Focus on the Right Digital Metrics

Instead of relying on simple metrics such as follower counts, the engagement rate is a much more accurate metric for determining an influencer’s efficacy in digital terms. In plain words, the engagement rate is the percentage of an account’s followers who have actually engaged with a specific post. Through this metric potential influencer red flags such as unengaged followers or, even worse yet: fake followers can be detected. Generally speaking, on platforms such as Instagram, engagement rates higher than 3% are highly favorable.

Gulf Reps

Attaining an excellent influencer to brand fit is akin to having an uncountable number of well-traveled individuals suggesting your brand to their friends. In marketing, nothing is more formidable than positive word of mouth from a potential customer’s friend. That’s exactly what we strive for here at Gulf Reps—selecting travel influencers that might as well as be talking to their childhood friends. Because their suggestions always fall on attentive ears. We only work with a handful of the most successful travel influencers who have a proven ability to drive value to our clients.

To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at

The Highest Spending Tourist Types to Target

From backpackers to business tourists and even religious pilgrims, the different types of travellers are endless. In this blog, we delve into the highest spending tourist types using their nation/region of origin as a medium of comparison. Read on to discover the ideal tourist type for your brand or business.

Highest Spending Tourist Types: Asia

Arab Tourists

Arabia is a region known for its wealthy nationals and their lavish spending habits; it should therefore come as no surprise that the average Arab traveller spends the most on tourism. That is around $3,000 per trip, according to The State of Middle East Outbound Travel 2019. During 2017, travellers from Qatar spent $5,000 as pre-departure expenditures, while UAE travellers spent $4,753, and Kuwaitis $3,068. Known to stay for longer holidays and have an affinity for more luxurious offerings, the Arab traveller is a highly sought-after tourist. Data from VisitBritian from 2018 showed that the top 5 spending nationals in trips to the UK were predominantly Arabs, with the exception of Chinese nationals making the list. With Kuwait having the top average expenditure per individual and UAE having the lowest of the 5, expenditures ranged from $3,391 to $2,030. Others included in that list were Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

Apart from their economy-boosting spending habits, Arab travellers are known to stay twice as long as the average tourist and are also known to repeat visits. That’s why acquiring one Arab family to your travel destination is the equivalent of obtaining six families from other regions. Chiefly of the Muslim faith, this tourist type is fond of conservative environments/excursions and halal foods.

Chinese Tourists

Now it can be argued that this one is just a play on statistics and that due to Chinas vast population, there are likely to be higher instances of wealthy tourists who like to engage in extravagant holidays. However, it is also a fact that Chinas easing of travel restrictions and the emergence of a newly rich Chinese middle class has also contributed to their making this list. Furthermore, the availability of direct flights to premiere destinations such as Spain also makes travel easier for the Chinese. With the number of Chinese people owning passports steadily increasing, there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping this trend.

Highest Spending Tourist Types: North America

American Tourists

According to research, travel is America’s favourite use of disposable income. The average American spends $1,900 on an average trip that usually lasts around a month. While the majority of the younger American populations (Millenials) travel for “experience tourism” purposes or to “find one’s self”, older individuals (35 years and above) lean more towards areas where there are exquisite foods and drinks. On average, the American traveller spends most of their money on travel food, as sampling local delicacies is a pattern among this tourist group.

Highest SpendingTourist Types: Europe

German Tourists

According to one source, “ (A) Germans’ average annual expenditures for holiday travel significantly surpass spending on automobile purchases.” Famed for their sheer numbers and their unsurprising appearance the moment you remark “there’s no one here,” Germans wear the “travel champions” crown proudly and deservedly. The German tourist is relatively unadventurous in their choice of food and trying local cuisines. They do, however, eat and drink enormous amounts. Their colossal appetite informs their choice of accommodation (something else they spend very liberally on). It is an absolute must that the hotel they check-in at must allow generous helpings at the breakfast buffet. The German travellers eating habits is an excellent cornerstone to base your targeting efforts around. Generally speaking, German travellers prefer outdoor excursions and sunny ones at that. Making beaches an obvious key attraction for them. They also enjoy exploring cultural hot zones such as museums, castles and monuments. 

Gulf Reps and the Highest Spending Tourist Types

Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East, with over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents, delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.

To find out more about our services, you can call us at +971 (0)4 703 6333 or write to us at