Health or self-indulgence? The motivations and characteristics of spa-goers

Athena H.N. Mak*, Kevin K.F. Wong, Richard C.Y. Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the underlying factors that motivate travellers to search for spa experiences while travelling. It also attempts to explore the different perceptions of the spa experience and identify the relevant socio-demographic characteristics of spa-goers. Based on the findings from a focus group interview and a review of literature, an instrument consisting of 21 motivating items was developed and used in a survey of Hong Kong spa-goers. Factor analysis revealed that 'relaxation and relief', 'escape', 'self-reward and indulgence', and 'health and beauty' are important factors that motivate travellers to visit spas. The findings of this study will provide researchers and practitioners in the spa industry with useful insights into understanding the present nature of the demand of spa in the Asian market.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-199
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Tourism Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Factor analysis
  • Health and wellness tourism
  • Hong Kong travellers
  • Spa tourism
  • Spa-goers
  • Tourist motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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