Brussels, November 22, 2019 – the European Health Tourism Industry Summit once again gathered the leading experts in the field of health tourism and policy makers in Europe in a dialog about the challenges and opportunities for Europe as a destination of health. Hosted by the Member of the European Parliament MEP István Ujhelyi, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, Member of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, and Special Ambassador of the UNWTO, this invitation only event gathered around 90 delegates from 28 countries, high-level public officials and professionals in medical, thermal and wellness tourism including healthcare providers, travel agents and tour-operators, facilitators, insurers, hoteliers and other industry stakeholders.
MEP Karima Delli, Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, and MEP Elena Kountoura, also participated at Summit opening and closing and offered to be instrumental in addressing the need for relevant health tourism data and raising the topics that directly affect further development of the health tourism industry in Europe.
The keynote on medical tourism as an opportunity for growth given by the representatives of the WTTC – World Travel and Tourism Council, set path for the discussion. Lola Uña Cárdenas, WTTC Government Affairs Director EU, emphasised that “Countries are increasingly recognizing the opportunities that medical tourism brings as a catalyst for social and economic development and its potential to support quality education, highly skilled workers, favorable visa policies, promotion of a country’s attractiveness, and well-developed infrastructure within a country.”
The roundtable chaired by Eduardo Santander, ETC – European Travel Commission Executive Director, raised the question of the sustainability of the European health tourism, and discussed it with high-level representatives of ESPA, EHTTA/Termatalia, UEHP, ITB Berlin and the European Commission. The roundtable discussing digitalisation challenges was chaired by Martin Plachy, ESPA Vice-President and provided insight to two exceptional examples from Finland and Croatia.
On Thursday, 21 November two study visits were organised: one to the CRG – the fertility clinic of UZ Brussel university hospital, and another one to the city of Spa, the candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage Site status and part of the cultural itinerary of historic thermal towns.
The Summit was organised by the HTI and with ESPA – European Spas Association as the Lead & Organisational partner. This year’s edition promoted Croatia as a health tourism destination, thus it was sponsored by the Croatian National Tourist Board, Croatia Airlines and Bagatin Clinic, while a networking cocktail held after the Summit promoted a Croatian gourmet experience, including Badel 1862 wines and Kraš pralines.