Medical Travel is more live than ever – this could be the wrap-up of the four ITB days! For the first time in its history, the world largest and most prestigious tourism show ITB Berlin offered its virtual edition ITB Berlin NOW 2021 from 9 to 12 March! It has been a week full of news, presentations, and networking opportunities through the Medical Conference and sessions with buyers, and the HTI Conference is proud to be the organizational partner of the Medical Tourism Segment once again.
ITB Medical Tourism Conference
Besides keynote speakers such as the Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and Member of the European Parliament István Ujhelyi, who greeted the Medical Conference’s audience, a renowned health tourism expert Dr. Prem Jagyasi offered the closing session. HTI Conference and European Spas Association set up panel discussions with prominent medical and thermal experts (for more information, check the posts on HTI Roundtable and ESPA panel). Nejc Jus, Head of Economic Research, presented fresh news from the WTTC and Claudia Wagner from FIT Reisen offered an expert interview on tour operators’ business. Dr. Anna Bialk-Wolf from the Institute of Research and Development of Medical Tourism in Poland presented a new approach to medical tourism, and Tom Dedek from Diversity Tourism introduced the world of opportunities for EU fundraising, including corona-recovery EU funds. Esteemed sponsors included EVEX – the largest hospital group in Georgia and the European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA) that also presented the Great Spas of Europe. Barcelona presented its offer as the leading medical city and the Croatian region Kvarner as the ultimate health and sustainable destination.
HTI Buyers Meeting Corner at ITB Medical Café
HTI set “a place to be” for more than 30 qualified buyers from four continents, resulting in more than 600 meetings during four ITB days. Besides buyers, numerous medical travel professionals joined some of the sessions of Doing business in medical tourism destinations such as Germany, Italy, Croatia, Finland, Turkey, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia, UAE, and China. While seeking new business partners and learning from each other, medical tourism professionals offered great networking opportunities to trade visitors who visited the Corner. Following the country of origin of the trade visitors and service providers, the medical tourism offer seems to be no longer concentrated on well-known medical destinations. Moreover, new and rapidly rising countries offer state-of-the-art infrastructure and fantastic medical services, such as Armenia and Iran.
ITB Medical Tourism Award
There was another great news at ITB this year – the first award to the Medical Tourism Destination. The winner for 2021 is Croatia, a country recognized as an innovative and sustainable destination that offers a high level of medical services. Rika Jean-Francois, ITB Commissioner for Corporate Social Responsibility and Medical Tourism Segment, handed over the award to Romeo Dragicchio, Director of the Croatian National Tourist Board in Germany. Other jury members included Thomas Bomkes, Managing Director of Diversity Tourism and Head of Medical Tourism Pavilion, Csilla Mezosi, ESPA Secretary-General, and Leila Krešić-Jurić, Managing Director of HTI Conference.
ITB Medical Tourism Segment at a glance
Anke Sponer, CEO of CSI, has given the most accurate summary of the Medical Tourism Track at ITB. CSI – Consultancy for Sustainable Initiatives from Germany provides consulting and sustainable marketing solutions to health tourism destinations, clinics, medical tourism facilitators.
CSI is also the publisher of the refreshed European Health Tourism Industry Magazine.
Anke’s takeaways from the ITB medical tourism sessions can be summarized as follows:
- Flexible post-covid health treatments, “less but high-value “positioning, and tailor-made communication to consumers are even more important than ever before.
- Digitized pre- and post-guest-relation will transform the medical tourism process towards long-term retention programs, regardless of mobility restrictions we might continue to encounter in some countries.
- The travelers’ new recovery needs must be responded to by sustainable and holistic care of the health tourism providers.
ITB Berlin remains the leading platform for the global travel industry – in a virtual format and in the year of the pandemic 2021. From 8 to 12 March 2021, the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show gathered around 65,700 online visitors and 3,513 exhibitors from 120 countries. Find out more in Press-Information.
Finally, if you haven’t had the opportunity to follow the ITB 2021, you can still catch up with the latest trends and news from the sector: the recording will be available until 31 May, and you only need to register at www.itb.com.
Goodbye ITB 2021, looking forward to a live reunion in 2022!