There has been a lot of uncertainty in the world in the last decade, and tourism is no exception. But there is one corner of Croatian tourism, where things have remained fairly constant, growing every year and attracting global excellence from all corners of the planet.
It is 5 years since I discovered that Croatia even had a medical tourism industry of note, when Ognjen Bagatin introduced me to the excellent Zagreb trio of Poliklinika Bagatin, St Catherine’s Specialty Hospital, and Svjetlost Eye Clinic, but while the Croatian capital had an impressive lineup of services, it did not take me long to realise that the centre of medical tourism excellence in Croatia lay on the coast in Kvarner, where a concentration of truly outstanding medical tourism experts – in a variety of fields, were offering some of the best – and most affordable medical tourism services in Europe, ably organised by the umbrella organisation, The Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster.
At the centre of those promotional efforts was a conference which started small back in 2013, went online during the pandemic, but last month celebrated its jubilee 10th anniversary firmly established as the leading health tourism conference in the region, with a truly outstanding list of international expert speakers. When I first attended the conference back in 2018, I was impressed by the number of medical tourism superstars with no obvious connection to Croatia who had made the journey to take part. These included Keith Pollard, Editor-in-Chief of the International Medical Travel Journal, and Sherine Azli, CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, voted the best medical tourism country in the world. Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and many other prestigious names have taken part over the years.
After the turbulence of the pandemic years, medical tourism in Croatia is back on track, largely due to the energy of the movers and shakers from Kvarner. An overview of this year’s CIHT 2022 conference below. You can learn more about CIHT 2022 on the official website.
The jubilee 10th CIHT confirmed its reputation as a leading regional conference on health tourism
This year’s jubilee 10th consecutive CIHT (Crikvenica International Health Tourism) conference, held on October 20 and 21 in a hybrid form, in Hotel Omorika and online, gathered in one place more than 20 lecturers from 7 countries and over 300 participants eager for new knowledge about the position, challenges, future and trends in health tourism. The growing attendance and interest in this conference speaks volumes about the importance of a strategic development plan for health tourism in order to better position Kvarner and Croatia on the map of health tourism destinations in the world.
“The CIHT conference achieved its goal again this year – it gathered top experts from all over the world in the field of health tourism. About 120 participants gathered in Crikvenica live, and even more online. These two days were very interesting in terms of exchanging information, experiences and knowledge, and we will certainly all leave richer for some new knowledge that we will apply in practice. As for the future of the CIHT conference, we are already planning new ideas, speakers and topics, and I invite everyone to join us at the CIHT conference in 2023”, said the director of the Tourist Board of the City of Crikvenica, Marijana Biondić.
One of the special features of this conference is that it brings experts from different professions such as medicine, tourism, marketing and business, which gives a diverse and comprehensive perspective on this prosperous branch of tourism. The conference ideally connects the experiences of the public and private sectors, experts and representatives of health institutions with practical experience. The covid period was challenging, especially for the health sector and its related sectors, therefore this year’s conference was guided by the idea of providing answers to the questions of how to adapt to the changed needs of patients and how to recognize the potential of your destination and harmonize it with market requirements.
After the workshop, in honor of the 10th anniversary, an award ceremony was held last night for institutions and individuals who, through their successful activities, are responsible for the development of health tourism in Croatia. The following were awarded: Special Hospital Akromion, Special Hospital for Ophthalmology Svjetlost, Polyclinic Glavić, Special Hospital Krapinske Toplice, Special Hospital Stubičke Toplice, Special Hospital Sveta Katarina, Special Hospital for Orthopedics Dr. Nemec, Polyclinic Rident, Thalassotherapia Opatija, Terme Selce, Thalassotherapia Crikvenica, Ognjen Bagatin and Marcel Medak.
While yesterday the topics of trends in health tourism, investments and development of health tourism were in the center, today’s presentations were aimed at identifying the market – who are the patients who use services in health tourism, how to improve the service to meet their needs, how to become an attractive institution and destination for new types of tourists and how to achieve competitiveness and break into new markets.
The successful edition of the 10th anniversary CIHT conference is the result of the cooperation of four organizations that put Kvarner on the map of world destinations for rest and rehabilitation: the Tourist Board of the City of Crikvenica and the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster as organizers, and Thalassotherapy Crikvenica and Selce Thermal Spa as co-organizers.
“I think that all participants, and we as organizers, are satisfied with this year’s conference. There was a lot of exchange of experiences, agreements, specific joint work, and ideas for the next conference were also obtained with regard to the directions in which health tourism is moving – from the use of digitization, artificial intelligence, regional differences… We are already creating plans and topics for next year , and we also invited some of this year’s lecturers to join us”, said Assoc. Ph.D. Vladimir Mozetič, MD, president of the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster.
The general sponsor of the 10th CIHT conference is Jadran-galenski laboratorij d.d., a Croatian pharmaceutical company with global success and recognition. The conference is supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, whose support was crucial in the organization of this conference. The conference is also supported by: Ministry of Health, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Croatian Tourist Board, Kvarner Tourist Board, Croatian Chamber of Commerce and City of Crikvenica. Conference partners are Orto Nova – Dental Medicine Center, AmCham – American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia, Jadran d.d. and Ericsson Nikola Tesla d.d. Media sponsors are Jutarnji list and Lider.
After the worthy celebration of the 10th anniversary, preparations for the 11th edition of the conference will soon follow, again with top experts from respected world institutions, interesting discussions on current topics and numerous news.
For the latest news and features on medical tourism in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.