Slovenia as a partner country of the online European Health Tourism Industry Summit

Published: 9.12.2021

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Slovenia as a partner country of the online European Health Tourism Industry Summit

Today, HTI – Health Tourism Industry in partnership with the European Spa Association (ESPA) and with the support of the European Travel Commission (ETC) holds an online meeting on European health and spa tourism. Slovenia participates as a partner country, as a presiding country to the Council of the EU.

Slovenia as a partner country of the online European Health Tourism Industry Summit

With the online event, the participating partners are announcing a live event that takes place once a year at the European Parliament in Brussels and has been postponed to the next year due to pandemic measures. Since 2018, the HTI European Summit has represented a platform for dialogue between the most prominent representatives of the European Union institutions and the representatives of European umbrella associations and reputable organizations in the field of health and spa tourism on possible partnerships, promotion, legislative changes and exchanges of views of Europe as a health destination. The aim of this online event is to discuss the possibilities of providing prevention packages in health resorts and, consequently, a higher quality of life for all European citizens.

The online meeting was opened by István Ujhelyi, Member of the European Parliament: “The pandemic taught us a lesson about the importance of the European Health Union. It is not only about huge differences and inequalities in healthcare systems across Europe, but it has brought new challenges, such as long post-covid syndrome or mental health diseases. Nevertheless, health tourism can contribute to the recovery of our citizens, and natural healing remedies and medical spas in European health destinations are the ones to offer the most sustainable prevention model, hence emphasizing the unique tourism product of Europe. Consequently, the time has arrived to agree on common tourism strategies, policies and framework that would finally lead us to put in place the European Tourism Union.”

This was followed by an address by Slovenian Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek, who emphasized the importance of cooperation of key stakeholders in creating a modern and competitive health and spa offer at the European Union level: "It is necessary to nourish cross-border networking of the health and spa tourism products and follow the trends so that this tourism sector remains competitive in the future and meets the expectations of tourists. Promoting cross-border preventive and curative treatment in European certified health resorts will make an important contribution to improving the health and well-being of the citizens of the European Union, while also increasing the resilience and competitiveness of the tourism industry. Cooperation between the private and public sectors will play an important role. That is why I strongly support the European Health Union's initiative for a common strategy and a common framework for Europe."

With the participation of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB), Slovenia is presenting itself as a partner country. Acting Director of the STB Ilona Stermecki, M.Sc., presented key advantages of Slovenia as a green, active and healthy destination with a long tradition of spa and health tourism: "Spas are traditionally one of the most important tourist products of Slovenian tourism, generating a third of all overnight stays. Slovenian tourism tradition is largely based on the rich tradition of the spa offer. The offer of spa tourism significantly contributes to the realization of Slovenia's vision as a global green boutique destination for demanding visitors who are looking for unique and diverse experiences throughout the year. Especially today, when safe experiences come first for tourists, when travelers are looking for non-mass destinations and when visitors prefer individual and personalized experiences when choosing destinations, guests' interest in spas is growing. The curative treatments of Slovenian natural health resorts for recovery after suffering from covid-19 are gaining on importance. Slovenian health resorts also boast a unique mineral water, on which the development and presentation of the spa offer is based. These are the reasons why the Slovenian Tourist Board pays special attention to the promotion and support of the development of the offer of health resorts."

The introductory part was followed by a round table discussion attended by prominent representatives of the European tourism industry, health and spa tourism. They highlighted cross-border healthcare and preventive activities of European spa destinations.

Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission (ETC): “The European Travel Commission supports all efforts to develop and promote pan-European health tourism offerings, especially during the pandemic period, when health comes first. Not only does it contribute to reducing seasonality in tourism and retains highly qualified medical staff, but it also reflects tradition and lifestyle in Europe and provides a framework for further sustainable and more dispersed tourism development for the benefit of all European citizens and destinations. "

Thierry Dubois, President of the European Spa Association ESPA: “Members of the European Spa Association ESPA offer long-term Covid recovery treatments and medical studies confirm the beneficial effects of natural healing factors on the human body. We want medical research to have significant support from these pan-EU treatment packages. The use of balneology, the science of the healing properties of thermal and mineral waters, in the context of national health policies, European spas and health resorts as a World Heritage Site should be more recognized by EU partners in both health policy and the tourism industry. At ESPA, we are pleased that the round table is attended by representatives of the European Commission and Slovenia as a partner country with excellent services in spa tourism. "

Iztok Altbauer, director of the Association of Slovenian Natural Health Resorts: “Slovenia has a century-old tradition of thermal and spa tourism. Unique natural healing factors have enabled the development and integration of knowledge in the field of balneology. We also have top specialists in the field of rehabilitation with outstanding achievements, and we also combine new knowledge in the preparation and implementation of post COVID-19 programs. Slovenian spa and health tourism certainly has many opportunities for development and success. "

Representatives of the European Commission Velina Pendolovska and Thomas Segretain also took part in the round table.

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