Dubai set for spa superstardom


DUBAI is expected to be one of the world’s top spa destinations by 2015, according to an industry expert.

“Dubai already has one of the highest concentrations of spas per capita in the world. With an expected visitor influx of 15 million by 2010, an unprecedented number of luxury hotels are being built, many with spa complexes,” says Susan Amin, exhibition manager, Messe Frankfurt, and organiser of the Wellness & Spas Middle East exhibition. “The growth in the number of establishments offering such amenities is likely to increase by some 17 per cent per year. By 2015, we expect Dubai to be among the top spa destinations in the world, with potentially more than 200 hotels containing world-class facilities.”
The event runs from May 20 to 22 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre and attracted 748 exhibitors and 8,225 visitors last year.
The spa and wellness industry is experiencing phenomenal levels of growth – and the global spa industry alone is estimated to be worth over $50 billion, she said. International Spa Association (ISA) figures released last November showed that the average annual growth rate for spas in the United States was 16 per cent, with an increase of 39 per cent since 2003. In 2005, the US spa industry generated $9.7 billion in revenue, with Americans making 131 million spa visits.
These trends are mirrored across the world, including the GCC. Membership sales at UAE fitness clubs are booming and regional consumers, particularly those aged 20 to 45, are willing to spend money on leisure and fitness activities and exhibit a high degree of acceptance towards health regimes.
Speaking of future trends, she says the market is headed towards segmentation and diversity of product. “Spa facilities now provide therapies tailored for the older person (preventative medicine), while at the other end of the age spectrum, there are treatments for mums and babies and even ‘teen spas’, which specifically cater for girls aged between 12 and 16 years. The diversity of treatments available reflects the huge growth that we are witnessing in the wellness market. Whilst the abiding image of a spa user may that of a woman, more men are now receiving spa treatments,” she says. ISA numbers that say men make up 29 per cent of all spa goers.
Last year saw spas returning to their source by rediscovering traditional water therapies and re-imagining them in new ways; such as colour hydrotherapy baths, vapour caves, deluge showers, and spa water parks.
Features for this year’s exhibition include the use of a signature aromatherapy fragrance throughout the halls. Motivated by the strong combination of spas and fitness, the event will also showcase the latest in fitness equipment and trends. A conference will run alongside the event, presenting keynote speakers from the sector within the region.