The wellness tourism sector has been growing by 6.5% annually. Image: Pixabay

The three leading provinces for wellness activities

The global wellness tourism industry is experiencing significant growth, and South Africa is a popular destination for wellness seekers.


The wellness tourism sector has been growing by 6.5% annually. Image: Pixabay

The wellness tourism industry is being driven by travellers’ growing emphasis on health, relaxation, and overall wellbeing.

Analysts estimate that Africa’s wellness tourism market is worth a substantial $89.56 billion. This market is expected to reach $114.24 billion by 2029.

In South Africa, the Western Cape is the leading province for wellness tourism, with 45.2% of visitors actively seeking wellness activities during their stay.

In second place is Mpumalanga – accounting for 14% of wellness-seeking visitors to South Africa. Kwazulu-Natal is third with 12.9%.

Fastest-growing segment in tourism

These activities often include spa getaways and revitalising short breaks. Here visitors often take advantage of the diverse natural beauty and serene environments found across these provinces.

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) recognises wellness tourism as a fast-growing segment within the tourism industry.

This sector has been growing by 6.5% annually, which is more than twice the growth rate for tourism on the whole.

Adele du Toit from the SA Rooibos Council (SARC), says South Africa’s awe-inspiring landscapes, vibrant cultures, and rich biodiversity make it a top African wellness tourism destination.

Rooibos – a uniquely South African wellness asset

Du Toit went on to say that South Africa possesses a unique and highly versatile health asset in Rooibos. It is one that presents a valuable opportunity for South Africa to differentiate itself in the wellness tourism market.

“One asset that stands out, is Rooibos – a potent botanical treasure unique to the country,” she said. “Rooibos has long been celebrated around the world for its antioxidant properties and numerous health benefits.”

“By integrating Rooibos into spa treatments, getaways, and food experiences, local businesses can offer travellers an authentic taste of our rich wellness traditions.”

Du Toit sees the Rooibos industry as one that can harness its natural resources to drive tourism in this segment, and stimulate the local economy.

One way to do this is with retreats amidst Rooibos plantations, she said. This can include activities like spa and wellness packages, Rooibos tasting tours and culinary experiences.