Dubai: The UAE's spa business is now the most profitable in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, as the combined annual revenues of the 212 facilities in the country hit almost $268 million annually, a study revealed.
Research conducted by SRI International and Intelligent Spas showed the UAE ranks first in the industry, as it is home to the highest number of spas with an income growth rate of 34 per cent a year. Tunisia comes second with 41 facilities and annual revenues of a little over $86 million.
Although Saudi Arabia is home to 96 spas, it only ranks third as the industry's yearly income is only about $52 million.
Egypt has the second highest number of spas in the region, but it ranks only fourth because its 146 facilities earn annual revenues of only $43 million, barely a quarter those of the UAE.
Experts say there is now a paradigm shift in the hotel industry, as more guests are increasingly looking for spa facilities when they book rooms for holidays or weekend breaks.
Spas in Middle East hotels are said to be earning more than independent or private facilities.
"In the Middle East, we find that an increasing number of our guests are requesting spa treatments as part of their stay," Gordon Tareta, vice president of spa operations for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, told Gulf News.
"The paradigm shift is in response to guests who are now increasingly looking for spa facilities to complement their healthier lifestyles," said Maggie Moore, director of the upcoming Hotel Show.
Overall, the future of the spa business in the region looks rosy, as the more than 800 facilities spread across Mena are estimated to generate a combined robust income of about $631 million every year, the survey indicated.
"A region with such strong cultural ties and rich traditions, the Middle East is an ideal spa destination and we anticipate increased spa business across our existing and soon-to-open properties in the region," added Tareta.
Quoted by Hotel Show organisers, the survey noted that spas in hotels corner 60 per cent of the total spa industry revenues.
The situation is different from that in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific, where independent or private salons account for 75 per cent of the total spa earnings.
Hotel spas only account for 25 per cent of the spa revenue. "Sixty per cent of total spa revenue is generated through hotels in the Middle East, so hotel management will be eager to capitalise on the profit potential of spas. With increasing demands from both men and women, corporate and leisure, they can no longer be viewed as loss-leaders or an exotic part of guest services," said Moore.