Is Health and Medical Tourism the Next Big Thing?

Daniela Rogulj

The session for the Council of Community Health Tourism at HGK concluded that there must be a stronger promotion for medical tourism within Croatian borders, expressing the need to put Croatia in the medical world map, reports HRTurizam.

“We are still not in the medical world map. We have made certain development steps forward, but it is insufficient for meaningful participation in the market of medical tourism worth an annual turnover estimated at more than 100 billion US dollars, with a projection of future annual growth of 15-20%,” said Ognjen Bagatin, director of the Bagatin clinic in Zagreb during the session of the Council of Community Health Tourism (ZTT) at the HGK.


Although there are around 1,100 providers of medical tourism, only 5% of tourists (patients) come from foreign markets, primarily coming from Italy, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. “This is extremely low, but the potential for development of health tourism in Croatia as a year-round tourism product is very large, and research tells us that foreign tourists in this segment spend 2.5 times more than domestic,” said Bagatin.


At the ZZT Council, Leila Kresic-Juric, Director of the Tourism Chamber of Commerce, referred to the membership of the Chamber of Commerce Espi (European Spas Association), which is a lobbying body for health tourism at the European level. Kresic-Juric drew attention to the need for a clearer definition of the parameters to be statistically monitored, the tax policy for wellness, the EU Health Care Directive and others.


The ZZT Council adopted a work plan for the following year in which the emphasis is on promotion for foreign markets through the joint participation in fairs and through education on how to do business with foreign markets, and what is required by the market.


In addition, they will announce standard projects and activities such as HGK benchamarking analysis for spas and specialized hospitals, tourism for spas and wellness hotels, Action Buy Croatian – Croatian products for Croatian tourism, HTI conference of medical tourism, and lobbying for amendments to the relevant laws and membership in the Espi.


“Health tourism must be part of an integrated Croatian tourism,” proclaims Marcel Medak, President of the Community Health Tourism in the HGK.


During the session, Ingrid Badurina Danielsson presented the ‘Taste the Mediterranean Festival’ that will be held with the following HTI Conference from 28 February to 2 March 2017 in Rovinj. “Mediterranean cuisine is on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage as the healthiest cuisine in the world, which should also be used to enrich the offer of health tourism.”


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