The 24th ESPA Congress Addressed New Trends In Health Tourism


This year, the ESPA Congress was held in Croatia, in beautiful Terme Tuhelj, situated very near Croatian capital Zagreb, from May 8 to 10. The 24th ESPA Congress was organised with the co-operation of the Croatian Chamber of Economy and the partnership of the Croatian National Tourist Board.

The event brought together representatives of 21 European countries and this year they hosted even guests from the USA, China, Russia and Israel. The aim of the event was to accompany new trends and innovations in the field of health tourism through the presentation of best practices and new niche markets in spa, wellness and wellness tourism. The Congress was held under the slogan of “Secrets of Life Balance – a Life Full of Well Being” and aimed to exchange experiences, new methods and tools in marketing, knowledge on innovation, education and market research, as well as business networking and health care improvements through health tourism that generates guests through all four seasons. It also included education through professional topics that can prevent health problems through nutrition, relaxation, and enjoyment of hobbies. Croatian slogan for health tourism is Life full of Well-being (from Croatia – full of life).


At the opening ceremony of the congress spoked ESPA President Thierry Dubois, Director of Croatian National Tourist Board Kristjan Staničić, Assistant Minister of Tourism of Croatia Olivera Šarić, Vice-President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy for Tourism Dragan Kovačević, and Ivana Kolar in front of Zagorje County and Terme Tuhelj and they all held an inspiring greeting speeches. After the speeches, there was a traditional Flag parade that included representatives of all counties that participated at the Congress.

ESPA’s congressional participants welcomed ESPA Chairman Thierry Dubois, who spoke of a growing focus on health and prevention of health problems in developed countries, and expressed satisfaction with the engagement and development of health tourism in Croatia.

[message type=”normal”]”Health tourism is seen as a great opportunity for strengthening the supply chain, extending the tourist season and attracting guests of greater pay power. In order to achieve greater competitiveness of Croatian health tourism, it is crucial to intensify marketing activities in order to strengthen the image of Croatia as a destination for health tourism. Another thing is new investments, new construction and renewal of existing capacities. In this way, we are approaching the ability to acquire international certificates, which is the key to increasing the number of foreign guests, “said Vice-President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy for Tourism Dragan Kovačević on opening the Congress.[/message]

During the convention, the best innovative spa resorts were awarded with the “ESPA Innovation Awards” for the innovativeness of health care providers and spa hotels as very important references in health tourism. …. (We will send the list of the winners on Monday)

Terme Tuhelj got Special Jury Award for their project Art&Spa that offers their guests to combine art and relaxation in an original way, with an emphasis on health, vitality, wellness and positive habits. Terme Tuhelj is the biggest thermal and spa resort in Croatia with a contemporary wellness centre, water park and hotel WELL. It is also the ideal congress destinations, with ten modern equipped multifunctional halls with capacity for up to 500 people, but – more importantly – an example of a perfect host.


During the event, ESPA held its Board Meeting and also several accompanying Associations held their Annual meetings or General Assembly as Roman Thermal Spas and QuHEP – Quality in Health prevention. The program was divided into several sections. The first one was about international markets with a great overview of what European facilities need to offer to attract travellers from Russian Federation, USA&Canada, China and Israel and then a presentation of benchmark analysis of Health resorts in Central Europe.

Section 2 was about Research and new studies. The participants learned about Economic importance of the medical spa and health resorts, New scientific results of peloid, Thalasso and Healing Forest therapy and New methods of losing weight.

The third section was about Trends and challenges in Health tourism and preventive medicine.

Section 4 was about Secrets of life balance. The special addition of this year Congress was Marketplace with ESPA partners and business co-operators, such as HTI Conference, UPMC Institute for Health, SPA-CE, Thermatalia and others.


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