Kvarner Health Vladimir Mozetic Interview Ahead of CIHT 2023

Paul Bradbury

October 19, 2023 – Croatia’s leading medical tourism conference, Crikvenica International Health Tourism (CIHT 2023). Vladimir Mozetic, President of the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster talks to TCN.

It is that time of year again – the 11th year of CIHT. What do you have in store this year?

    For the eleventh year in a row, CIHT gathers international experts in the fields of health, tourism and health technologies, following global development trends. This year, the lectures are divided into 4 panels, after which high-quality discussions are expected, along with the continuation of B2B meetings. And of course enjoying the beauty of the Kvarner region. The panels are:

    DEVELOPMENT AND IMPROVEMENT OF HEALTH TOURISM IN THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA with active participation of the representatives of both Ministries of Health and Tourism and Sport with new legal and financial framework;

    TOURISM AND HEALTH with participation of representatives of Ministry of Ayush from the Republic of India with which Cluster has MoM as well as presentation of the project „forest therapy“;

    CLUSTER COLABORATIONS we will have the president of the Slovenian Spa Association, the president of ESPA (European Spa Towns), the president of the Association of Health Tourism in the Croatian Economic Chamber, and the Senior Director of Leadership, Governance & Business Risk Advisory, Vmarsh Healthcare of Vmarsh Healthcare;

    TECHNOLOGIES AND HEALTH TOURISM includes CEO of Styria Health Technology Cluster, director of EDIH (European Digital Innovation Hub) project, Executive Director & Founder, Vmarsh Healthcare about the humanization of healthcare in the are of AI, and representative of JGL – pharma company (Jadran galenski laboratorij)

    The conference will take place in the Miramare Hotel in Crikvenica, which has become a new member of the Cluster.

    How do you assess the market after the disruption of the pandemic – is business back to 2019 levels?

    I would prefer that we no longer compare ourselves to 2019, because the era of the pandemic has brought numerous changes both in the approach and types of healthcare provision, as well as in the wishes of service users. If we show the numbers, we estimate that over 230,000 guests stayed in Kvarner in the past 4 years, which include the pandemic ones, due to health services. In principle, the quality and availability of health tourism services have been further improved with continuous investment in health personnel and marketing. Technology has taken a significant place, and financial indicators show an upward trend. Quality, safety, availability, differentiation of services, new and different markets are now topics.

    One huge change in the industry is the use of AI. How much has AI been integrated into Kvarner’s health tourism offer? Can you give a couple of examples?

    Biomedicine, biotechnology, bioinformatics with big data, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, clinical investigations, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, advanced cognitive technologies, immunotherapy, gene and stem cell therapies, new types of vaccination, telemedicine (e-health, m-health, t-health…), robotics, 3D print, virtual medicine, educational processes, health tourism are all fields in which  AI is now included in every segment. Considering that the healthcare industry is a significant segment of development, AI is gradually being used in all areas. One of the segments is the provision of health care; the other is monitoring the effects of procedures while personalizing the approach. AI can also be used in monitoring and analyzing the arrivals of service users, organizing accommodation and stay, and monitoring satisfaction and their needs. The cluster and its members are involved in a large number of EU projects, and they also have active international cooperation in this field. Some of them will be presented at the Conference.

    The Kvarner Tourist Board recently published what is probably the best official tourism promo video of the last 10 years. How is the working relationship with the tourist board, and how much does being a de facto tourist destination help develop its health tourism?

    Definitely one of the best tourist promo videos! Our members are 6 tourist boards in the region, from TZ Kvarner to TZ postal regions that represent the Cluster (Rijeka, Opatija, Crikvenica, Gorski Kotar, Cres, Mali Lošinj) and we work together to promote activities in the health tourism of our region from conferences, fairs, social networks… The next step we are taking is preparations for a health tourism promotional video, so… I would like to emphasize the high level of cooperation with the National Tourism Board too, both in support of the promotion of our activities abroad as well as the CIHT Conference.

    Your thoughts on the current state of the Croatian health tourism industry and the direction it is heading?

    Given that legislation has been prepared at the national level that enables the further development of the health industry and health tourism, strategies have been written, and funding sources are visible, I expect some progress. If we jointly accept the health industry, of which health tourism is an integral part, as a strategic economic branch, if we connect stakeholders in health care, the health industry, tourism, science, education and research, we can expect exemplary results. Destination certification projects, destination management, accreditation of service providers, joint application to EU projects, public-private partnership, monitoring global trends in health tourism and the use of comparative advantages and opportunities of individual subregions of Croatia will enable us to achieve our goals. The directions in which the health sector is developing in Croatia (medical and dental), especially the privately owned sector, show the way that this segment of the economy will continue to develop. At the same time, this development can enable better cooperation with the public system in order to jointly contribute to the general quality of health, and then health tourism will be an added value.

    Back to CIHT, who is the conference aimed at, and what are your hopes and expectations from this year’s event? 

    The conference is primarily intended for employees in the field of health tourism from the health and tourism sectors, and given the increasing influence of technology and development, we expect the arrival of participants from the academic and research sectors too.

    High-quality panelists, recent topics, opportunities for B2B meetings and concrete agreements with the basic intention to further stimulate the already started collaborations and the possibilities of combining business models, as well as the use of best practices.

    The data on the visibility of last year’s CIHT, and thus on the participants, topics and products, that there were more than 250,000 views of posts from the Conference, speaks for itself.

    You can learn more about CIHT 2023 on the official website. The conference will take place on October 26 and 27.

    To learn more about medical tourism in Croatia, check out my overview in the video below.


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