European Health Tourism Leaders Meet with key Members of the European Parliament in Brussels 

The European Health Tourism Summit took place at the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, organized by HTI Partner just before the European elections. The main objective of the event was to stimulate discussions on the future development of health tourism and to present demands and expectations of leading experts and leaders in the medical spa, and well-being sectors to key representatives of European policy.

The Summit brought together over 50 professionals and representatives of European health tourism associations and companies, as well as prominent members of the European Parliament, including 10 members of the Trasport and Tourism (TRAN) and Health Committee, also HTI global partner the Foundation of healthcare and wellness promotion India. The hosts of this prestigious B2G Summit were Istvan Ujhelyi, Vice-Chair of the TRAN Committee, UN Tourism Ambassador, and Ivana Kolar, Director of the European HTI Summit, in cooperation with the European Spas Association and partners.

The event speakers were Members of the European Parliament Jordi Solé Ferrando from Spain, Tomislav Sokol from Croatia, Romana Tomc and Franc Bogovič from Slovenia, Elena Kountoura from Greece, Josianne Cutajar from Malta, Marian-Jean Marinescu from Romania, Andrej Kovačev and Emil Radev from Bulgaria, as well as Executive Director of the European Travel Commission Eduardo Santander, Member of the European Commission DG GROW Misa Labarille, Member of the Board of Directors of the European Association of Healthcare Management (EHMA) Todorka Kostadinova, former Vice Prime Minister of Slovenia Zdravko Počivalšek, and President of the Foundation of Healthcare and Wellness Promotion India Dalip Kumar Chopra. 

Photo: European Health Tourism Summit

 emphasizing the need for further development of the European cross-border healthcare directive

The Summit began with an inspiring speech by Eduardo Santander, emphasizing the potential of health tourism and changes in the sector. Misa Labarille opened the floor to include health tourism among the key goals of European tourism and serve with input for the next strategy, calling the partners here for active cooperation. Dalip Kumar Chopra presented the strength of health tourism in India, and Zdravko Počivalšek concluded with a summary highlighting the economic benefits of health tourism development and international cooperation.

At the Summit, we addressed the Karlovy Vary declaration with the four pillar program: 

1. European medical spa industry – world cultural heritage 

2. Balneotherapy as curative and preventive medical discipline

3. European health destinations – a place to take care of the ageing population

4. Sustainable development concept for Europe’s economically weak regions and the social responsibility to provide medical services in rural areas.

Special attention was given to the state of cross-border healthcare cooperation and the importance of the free market, emphasizing the need for further development of the European cross-border healthcare directive. “Challenges such as pandemics, rising healthcare costs, ageing population, and unequal access to health require a global response. International cooperation allows us to share knowledge and resources and find effective solutions. We must bridge differences by building better healthcare systems and establishing a free market for healthcare services. Cooperation in health tourism enables countries to attract patients from around the world and stimulate economic growth,” said Ivana Kolar, Summit Director.

Photo: European Health Tourism Summit

Europe must collaborate with healthcare providers and also partners in the Balneology sector to address health as a crucial topic and improve prevention services. As the world’s population rapidly ages, prevention is the foundation of health, and it is essential to include it in healthcare. As we live in a time of complete globalization and strong development, we must ensure a free market for healthcare services accessible to all under equal conditions. Better cooperation within the EU and participation in EU4H programs is the next step. Only by exchanging knowledge and experiences can we contribute to the further development of health tourism.

The Summit was attended by ESPA – European Spa Association with executive secretary Csilla Mezosi, EHTTA – European Historic Thermal Towns Association with director Simone Zagrodnik and president Ricardo Mortedelli, UEHPA – European Union of Private Hospitals Association with director Ilaria Giannico, EHMA – European Healthcare Management Association,  Balneological Institute from the Czech Republic with director Alina Huseynli, Sven Aerts from ESPA, ITB Berlin with representatives Rika Jean-Francois and Thomas Bömkes, ETC – European Travel Commission, ECTAA – European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association with director Erik Dresin, Madan Thangavelu, president of the European Ayurveda Association, and other prominent experts. Croatia was represented by the event initiators – Ivana Kolar from Julius Rose as the Summit Director and Ivan Rendulić, Director of Zagreb Med.

Learn more about the European Health Summit here.

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