Rotorua’s spa and wellness sector creates positive economic impact

A new report underscores Rotorua's position as a leading international destination for spa and wellness tourism, drawing attention to the city's rich geothermal resources and diverse offerings.

With global interest in health and wellbeing continuing to increase, the report predicts visitor spend by Rotorua spa and wellness holidaymakers, could jump from the $277.6 million spent in 2023, to $408.2 million in just a few years.
The “Economic impacts of spa and wellness tourism in Rotorua” report, provided by New Zealand leading regional economist Benje Patterson, has unveiled significant positive economic impact and shown the city's prominence as a premier destination for relaxation and rejuvenation. Released by RotoruaNZ, the report sheds light on the various ways spa and wellness activities contribute to the local economy: visitor attraction, increased spending by wellness travellers as compared to others, priority activities, job creation, and opportunities for future growth.

Key findings from the report:

  • Visitor numbers: In 2023, Rotorua welcomed more than 260,000 domestic holidaymakers and nearly 160,000 international visitors who indulged in geothermal spa and wellness activities.
  • Economic spending: According to research by the Global Wellness Institute, wellness travellers spend 41% more than the average traveller. Based on this and visitation numbers, $277.6 million was injected into the Rotorua economy in 2023 by spa and wellness travellers. This figure is projected to rise to an inflation-adjusted $408.2 million by 2028.
  • Primary motivation: International research has revealed that approximately 12% of wellness trips are primarily motivated by spa and wellness experiences. This translates to $33.5 million of current spending, with projections indicating an increase to $49.3 million by 2028.
  • Job creation: Spa and wellness tourism supports a significant number of jobs in Rotorua. In 2023, approximately 1,324 jobs could have been supported by total spending from spa and wellness holidaymakers. Of these, 144 were directly supported by spending with spa and wellness activity operators, with the remaining 1,180 jobs supported across various other businesses.
  • Growth opportunities: Growth scenarios are promising, making ongoing investment and development necessary to meet the increasing demand for spa and wellness experiences. Ensuring adequate capacity will be essential to capitalise on international demand expectations for wellness tourism.

The most recent additions to Rotorua’s immersive geothermal spa and wellness activities opened their doors in 2023. QE Health, New Zealand's only clinically integrated health and wellness centre, created a brand-new, $19 million purpose-built facility, and the $60 million luxury Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa (pictured at top) is the largest investment in the city’s spa and wellness sector in more than a century.
Patterson’s report indicates there’s demand and capacity for further development and it supports our Destination Management Plan, which identified the spa and wellness sector as one of our three transformational focus areas.
Andrew Wilson, RotoruaNZ CE, said, "Our world-class spa and wellness industry plays a pivotal role in Rotorua's economy, attracting manuhiri from around the world. Not only does it contribute substantially to revenue generation, but it also supports employment opportunities across various sectors. As we work toward the objectives in the Rotorua Destination Management Plan, we’ve seen that strategic investment and development will be key to sustaining growth in our spa and wellness offerings."
With its unique blend of natural beauty and therapeutic experiences, Rotorua continues to captivate travellers seeking relaxation, rejuvenation and holistic wellness.

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