Spa tourism is considered one of the most important segments of the $639 billion wellness market. The literature refers to two types of spa tourists: wellness tourists and healthcare/medical tourists. However, virtually no studies have compared spa choice models between these two segments. The present study uses the Cognitive-Affective-Normative (CAN) model to compare the variables that explain purchase intention in relation to spas between the two segments. Data were collected through a questionnaire administered to a sample of 810 potential Spanish spa-goers, and consistent partial least squares (PLSc) structural equation modeling (SEM) was used. Contrary to what might be expected, no major differences were found between the spa choice models for wellness tourists and for healthcare/medical tourists. The results show that R2 and Q2 were similar for both models. The most influential variable was performance expectancy, and differences were only found in the influence of the pleasure variable.
Keywords: decision making; healthcare tourists; spas; wellness.