ZAGREB, May 9 (Hina) – Health tourism is a great opportunity for Croatia to extend the tourist season, increase its off-season services and attract higher-profile tourists, it was said on Thursday at the formal opening of the annual meeting of the European Spas Association (ESPA), the umbrella organisation that promotes health tourism, which is taking place in the northwestern spa town of Tuhelj until May 10.
The conference has brought together representatives of 21 European countries who will be discussing the latest trends and innovation in health tourism. The event was co-organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) in partnership with the Croatian National Tourism Board (HTZ).
It was said that health tourism was the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry, growing at an annual rate of between 15 and 20 percent.
HTZ director Kristjan Stanicic said he was confident that health tourism would grow considerably in the years ahead and that Croatia could definitely be competitive in this sector. He said that health tourism did not depend on the sun and sea and could help extend the tourist season, both along the Adriatic coast and in continental Croatia.
Citing the TOMAS Summer 2017 survey, Stanicic said that seven percent of tourists visiting Croatia did so for health reasons and eight percent to visit spas.
Dragan Kovacevic, the HGK vice-president for agriculture and tourism, said that health tourism was a great opportunity for Croatia to increase its tourist services in the off-season, adding that a mild climate and the high quality of health services were the country’s advantages in that regard.
Assistant tourism minister Olivera Saric that 15 percent of all tourist travels were motivated by health reasons. She said that the potential for the development of health tourism as a year-round business was extraordinary and that health tourism was included in the Croatian Tourism Development Strategy until 2020, noting health tourists spent between 20 and 30 percent more than the average.
The ESPA conference is taking place under the motto “Secrets of life balance – A life full of well-being”. It will discuss new trends and innovations through presentations of best practice and new market niches in spa and wellness tourism. ESPA Innovation Awards will be presented for innovation and excellence in providing medical spa services.