International Medical Tourism Experts Gather in Crikvenica for CIHT 2023

Paul Bradbury

October 29, 2023 – The 11th Crikvenica International Health Tourism Conference took place this week, an action-packed exchange between leading global experts, reports

The luxurious Hotel Miramare in Crikvenica hosted the prestigious two-day Crikvenica International Health Tourism Conference (CIHT). The latest trends and innovations in health tourism were the main topic of the 11th edition of the conference.

“Connecting different institutions and institutions proved to be a successful model that additionally presents Kvarner, but also the whole of Croatia. This conference has a strong national component. I am proud to announce that the Health Tourism Cluster of Kvarner has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports on cooperation in the field of further development of health tourism in Croatia. – said Vladimir Mozetič, president of the Health Tourism Cluster of Kvarner. It is the cluster that brings together members from the medical, tourism and university sectors and supporting services – all with the aim of creating competitive health tourism in the destination. They, along with the Tourist Board of the City of Crikvenica, are the organizers of CIHT. “We are very happy that today we entered the new decade of the CIHT conference. The satisfaction is greater that this year both ministries, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Ministry of Health, joined the conference much more strongly – organizationally and content-wise. We heard interesting information about their activities on the topic of health tourism, because we all know that the legislative framework is very important, as well as the support of the institutions for the entire sector. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s new lectures and meeting top experts in the field of health tourism,” said Marijana Biondić, director of the Tourist Board of the City of Crikvenica.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has been supporting the Crikvenica International Health Tourism Conference (CIHT) for years. The further development of health tourism in Croatia is one of the main focuses for them, as well as for the organizers of the conference. “We have recognized the potential for the development of health tourism through significant secured financial resources, almost 100 million euros are available for the development of health tourism, which, I believe, will contribute to what we all want, which is a more even development of tourism in Croatia and year-round tourism,” he said. is Josip Pavić, State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

At the beginning of the conference, in the opening speeches, Danica Kramarić, director of the Directorate for Primary Health Care, Health Tourism, Medicines and Medical Products, Public Health and Public Health Protection of the Ministry of Health, addressed the participants: “Health tourism is a product with high potential. We are already a recognized destination in the field of dental medicine, aesthetic medicine, ophthalmology, orthopedics and even oncology. Along with all the natural beauty, in the coming period we must continue to focus on the quality of service, professional staff and long tradition.”

After the welcome speeches, the official part of the conference continued in the same vein, as the first topic was the further development of health tourism in Croatia. In addition to the already highlighted opportunities, lecturer Slavko Štefičar (Ministry of Tourism and Sports) emphasized the importance of promotion: “Without promotion, there is nothing. No matter how good a product we have, if we don’t have good marketing, we can’t achieve the results we want.”

The conference continued with attractive topics. One of the topics that particularly aroused the interest of the participants was forest therapy. The idea was born in 1982 in Japan, and it is a therapeutic walk in the forest, the goal of which is to connect with nature and thus relieve stress. “It has many positive effects on the body. It is a preventive method that improves sleep, relieves stress and has a positive psychological effect on the individual,” explained Aleksandar Racz from the University of Health in Zagreb. One of the prominent goals is to expand the offer of forest therapy as part of the health tourism offer.

Anandaraman Sharma, head of the Panchakarma Department of the prestigious Indian institute – All India Institute of Ayurveda, presented the method of using Ayurveda in the treatment of skin diseases. He presented the case of a man who had major problems with psoriasis, and after Ayurvedic treatment, the symptoms of this disease disappeared. This was followed by an interesting lecture by Indranoshea Das, director of the national Ayush Directorate from India, on the positive impact of yoga on health.

The lectures were enriched by a panel discussion moderated by Ivan Rendulić, director of RexRe from Zagreb.

The second day of the 11th Crikvenica International Health Tourism Conference (CIHT) at Hotel Miramare in Crikvenica began with lectures and a panel discussion on the topic of cluster associations. President of the Association of Slovenian Natural Spas (SSA), Iztok Altbauer, cited a positive example of the association from Slovenia, and it is about the Slovenian green wellness route: “It is a cycling route that connects Slovenian spas and thermal spas. It offers a sustainable way of traveling, and after every day it’s time to relax and unwind in famous spas and health resorts.”

Cluster associations are particularly important when it comes to marketing and sales because they imply a combined budget, knowledge and resources. “We often forget about the possibility of association, most of the time we are focused only on our own company, institution or project. Associations are particularly useful in health tourism and open up numerous greater development opportunities. ” – explained Ivana Kolar, director of Julius Rose, a company for business consulting and project management, and added that the quality of health tourism in Croatia is being raised to a higher level from year to year. Linking cultural tourism with health tourism also offers new development potential, which was the topic of the lecture by Simone Zagrodnik, president of the Association of European Historic Thermal Towns (EHTTA). How government can help ensure a successful and safe health tourism facility, explained Paula Wilson, senior director of leadership, management and business risk consultancy at Vmarsh.

The use of new technologies and artificial intelligence in health tourism was the main topic of the fourth block of lectures and the final panel. Sandeep Sharma, CEO and founder of the Vmarsh Healthcare company, pointed out that new technologies can significantly improve health tourism services, but we must not ignore the importance of the human factor: “New technologies often help, speed up the various services we want to provide to patients, but all this should be in synergy with health professionals, their expertise and empathy.” Damir Medved, director of EDIh Adria, presented the ways in which artificial intelligence and new technologies can help the business of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in the field of health tourism. “I can help in faster communication with patients, rehabilitation, in the use of tools that will facilitate the administration of healthcare professionals. There are various possibilities, but small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in Croatia are mostly not ready, and one of the main problems is the lack of information and education.” – said Medved. Lejla Pock, director of the Human Technology Cluster – Styria from Graz, presented her cluster. It gathers around 150 companies in the region that operate in the field of health, and their main task is to provide contacts, knowledge and information for this community, lately very often in the field of new technologies. The whole was rounded off by a lecture by Joško Brkić, manager of Aqua Maris, JGL, entitled Microplastics – the rising tide of health problems.

At this year’s CIHT conference, organized by TZG Crikvenica and the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster and co-organized by Thalassotherapy Crikvenica and Terme Selce, 13 lecturers from 7 different countries shared their experiences and knowledge, and the lectures and panels were followed live and online by more than 100 participants from all over of the world.


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