Outstanding medical tourism destination honoured at ITB Berlin NOW
“And the winner is ... Croatia!“ Rika Jean-Francois of ITB Berlin joined in the celebrations as she presented the first ITB Medical Tourism Award at ITB Berlin NOW, following the decision made by the jury members HTI, ESPA and ITB Berlin. Congratulations went to Romeo Draghicchio, director of the Croatian National Tourism Board in Frankfurt, who expressly thanked his team with the words “you have deserved this prize.“
In recent years, Croatia has made a name for itself as a quality medical tourism destination. Out of the one million people who visited the country in 2019, 500,000 came for medical reasons, Draghicchio said. And even during 2020, the year of the crisis, the country weathered the situation comparatively well. At 50 million overnights, the figures for 2020 were 50 per cent of 2019, a record year. “Under the circumstances that is very good“, Draghicchio said. He saw it as proof that the best had been made of a bad situation. “This experience will help us to prepare for the next tourist season“, the tourism promoter said.
During the pandemic people around the world have become aware of how important physical and mental health is. With its Medical Tourism segment ITB Berlin NOW is focusing on a market with high growth potential. Tour operators are already promoting packages with coronavirus vaccinations, a not uncontroversial step. Offering vaccination pass holders from EU countries or China preferential travel is also being discussed. To date, no countries have specifically required arrivals to be vaccinated. However, some countries are already offering visitors who have been vaccinated preferential treatment, waiving strict entry rules such as quarantine for instance.
In his closing remarks after the award presentation, Dr. Prem Jagyasi, author of the Medical Tourism Guidebook and publisher of a web magazine with more than five million monthly readers, said that in future medical wellness and medical treatments in the wellness sector would play an increasingly important role. “Covid-19 is a good opportunity to rethink and improve structures“, Dr. Prem said. Demand for medical tourism was on the rise. “We anticipate a huge boom in medical tourism.“ To achieve that tour operators and providers had to prepare, put together sustainable concepts and integrate new technologies. “Medical tourism will become more dynamic“, Prem said. It was necessary to offer short-term solutions such as post-coronavirus treatment without losing sight of the long-term goals.
Croatian National Tourist Board