Thailand urged to focus on wellness
published : 6 May 2023 at 07:32
newspaper section: Business
writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Thailand's health economy boasts very high growth potential as the world is increasingly aware of the importance of health and self-care, according to a Commerce Ministry study.
Poonpong Naiyanapakorn, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office, said the office studied the opportunities for Thailand's wellness economy and found growth potential given the world's greater focus on health and self-care.
He cited the Global Wellness Institute, which said the global wellness industry from 2023-25 is expected to grow at an average rate of 7.5% per year, with a total value of up to US$6.99 trillion by 2025.
Nearly 70% of the market value will be in four categories: personal care and beauty, accounting for 19.9%; nutrition and weight loss 17.0%; fitness 16.9%; and health tourism 15.9%.
Thailand has potential in wellness tourism, ranking as the No.1 destination for wellness retreats in 2020, according to www.slingo.com, fifth in healthcare (Global Health Security Index 2021), and fifth for cultural heritage influence (Culture Heritage Influence 2021, CEOWorld magazine).
The Thai government also initiated a policy to support the country as a "wellness economic corridor", said the office.
"Given the potential and capabilities in the wellness industry, if Thailand promotes sectors with rising demand trends, it can attract high-spending tourists, distributing income to secondary tourist destinations," said Mr Poonpong.
"Thailand can also promote cultural uniqueness along with distinctive features in the area, while performing checks to maintain service and product standards. Supporting business matching events for local entrepreneurs to attract investment will help strengthen our wellness industry and create opportunities for Thai entrepreneurs."
The study found one branch with potential is health tourism, in which Thailand makes up 1.08% of a global market that is growing at 10.2%.
The global health tourism market value is estimated at $1.12 billion and is expected to accelerate following the full reopening of borders.
This branch should be prioritised in Thailand's market expansion strategy, he said.
Other branches with development potential in Thailand include real estate, with the country claiming 0.14% of a global market that is growing at 12.4%. The global market value in 2025 is estimated at $580 billion.
Another sector is fitness, with Thailand claiming a 0.39% proportion of a global market growing at 9.5%, said the office. The global market value for fitness in 2025 is estimated at $1.19 billion.
These trends show high growth potential, but Thailand has a small market share in both the domestic and global markets, creating an opportunity for development to compete for a larger share, said the office.
One area where Thailand stands out with a high proportion of the global market is spas. Thailand accounts for 1.55% of a global spa market that is growing at 7%.
The estimated value of the global spa market in 2025 is $151 billion.
Mr Poonpong said the branches that need improvement and development through rebranding or innovation include nutrition and weight loss, health and beauty care, traditional medicine and supplements, and preventive medicine.
Thailand makes up 0.92% of the global nutrition and weight loss market, which is growing at 5.4%. The estimated market value in 2025 is $1.20 billion.
The country comprises 0.68% of the global health and beauty care market, which is growing at 5.0%. The estimated market value in 2025 at $1.41 billion.
For traditional medicine and supplements, Thailand's proportion in the global market is 0.69%, with a growth rate projected at 6.6%. The estimated market value in 2025 is $583 billion.
In preventive medicine, Thailand's proportion in the global market is 0.46%, while the growth rate is 5.5%. The estimated market value in 2025 is $478 billion.
The health and beauty care, nutrition and weight loss sectors have a high total value in the global market and should be prioritised when expanding the market, he said.
For the traditional medicine and supplement sector, innovative products and services must be developed to high standards, said Mr Poonpong.
In addition, Thailand needs to accelerate development of other sectors, such as bottled water and hot springs, where Thailand makes up 0.03% of the global market, which is growing at 7.7%. The estimated market value in 2025 is $89.7 billion.
Although the market is not large and Thailand has a very small proportion, there are opportunities to develop the nation as a hot spring destination in the Andaman region, though it requires much more promotion, he said.