Fitness: Health and wellness industry struggling
It might be rejuvenating in geothermal springs, pampering at a day spa or doing
an early morning yoga session on the beach.
For many Australians, health and wellbeing is an integral part of life so it’s not surprising the health and wellbeing industry is big business.
While the industry has been hit hard by COVID, it’s expected to bounce back post pandemic with a fresh approach.
FITNESS INDUSTRY HIT HARD
The fitness side of the industry alone generates $3 billion a year, according to Barrie Elvish, chief executive of Fitness Australia.
The not-for-profit organisation advocates for the fitness industry and includes gyms, yoga studios, health clubs, fitness centres and pilates studios.
Victoria has about 1500 gyms and yoga and pilates studios and the fitness industry employs about 40,000 people in the state.
But like many industries in Victoria, health and wellbeing businesses have taken a battering, Mr Elvish said.
“Since March, gyms in metropolitan Melbourne have only been open for two and a half weeks so the economic impact has been massive,” he said.
“Some people within the sector have drifted to other areas of employment – either short-term or permanently because of the uncertainty,” he said.
“But in Australia, as of mid-September, there has been no confirmed transmission of COVID-19 within a gym facility.”
“Gyms in NSW reopened in June and in a nine-week period there were over eight million visits to gyms in NSW and there wasn’t one COVID transmission reported.”
WELLNESS INDUSTRY PREDICTED TO BOOM POST-COVID
Health and wellbeing beyond lifting weights and pilates is also a major contributor to Victoria’s economic, physical and emotional health.
For the year ending December 2019, the National Visitor Survey reported that 209,000 domestic overnight trips in Victoria involved a spa and/or wellbeing experience.
This resulted in 1.5 million visitor nights and $177 million in visitor expenditure.
The state’s popular spa destinations such as the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Great Ocean Road and Daylesford are part of the global wellness economy.
Global wellness was worth $6.1 trillion in 2018, and includes businesses and destinations focused on wellness tourism, fitness, mind and body health, spas and mineral springs, nutrition, personal care and beauty.
The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) reports that wellness tourism is predicted to be worth $1.2 trillion by 2022 and is growing twice as fast as tourism generally.
Wellness tourists also spend more than average tourists – making them an attractive prospect for Victorian wellbeing businesses recovering from the effects of COVID-19.
The GWI says international wellness tourists spend an average $2090 per trip which is 53 per cent more than any other international tourist.
Domestic wellness tourists spend $833 per trip – a significant 178 per cent more than average domestic tourists.
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IBISWorld research predicts that the health and wellness spa industry in Australia will experience a slight downturn due to the lingering effects of the pandemic in the coming year or so, but Mr Elvish believes there are also opportunities for the health and wellbeing sector to emerge stronger and fitter.
“Businesses have had to innovate during lockdown and I think that innovation will continue. I do believe the sector will recover fully as long as consumers have confidence that businesses have created a safe environment,” he said.
“Mental health issues have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and I think the pandemic has also seen some people taking more time out for their health and wellbeing.
“People are recognising the importance of being fit and well and that shift will have a positive flow-on for businesses.”