Strategies for the future of medical tourism at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention
Health is currently a much talked-about topic. Medical tourism – now as under-subscribed as any other travel market – faces both big challenges and opportunities. At the HTI Roundtable of the ITB Berlin NOW Convention Leila Krešić-Jurić, managing director and partner of the Health Tourism Industry HTI, discussed the latest trends and strategies for sustainable medical tourism with other panel members.
Imploring someone to “stay safe“ belongs to the new normal, said Leila Krešić-Jurić. It was therefore all the more important to make it part of a strategy for evolving medical tourism in the future: “The focus is shifting from treatment to prevention.“ Medical providers such as hospitals and clinics that partnered with hotels and tour operators would have to adapt their strategies to the effects of the pandemic in order to offer new medical tourism products and services.
In the current circumstances there is particular focus on medical tourism, which has wide-ranging potential. The European Spas Association (ESPA) for instance is working on concepts for treating the effects of long Covid at medical spas and health resorts. New approaches in telemedicine also offer new prospects for medical tourism. During lockdown, patients receiving consultation and treatment via telephone and internet was tested in many places. “In the end it means that less travel can become more travel“, the moderator Krešić-Jurić concluded. The coronavirus had the potential to boost medical tourism worldwide, he said.
Sherif Hassan, CEO and founder of Tripsetc Travel Company, was convinced that – due also to Covid-19 – healthcare offered enormous prospects for tourism. However, concepts had to be reworked. “Wellness hotels need to focus on healthcare, and clinics should give well-being greater attention“, the specialist for internal medicine said.
Christian Fadi El-Khouri, managing partner of International Patient Service Deutschland, is worried that many medical tourism providers have a complete lack of customers. Elective treatment and surgery had been postponed or cancelled, as patients were unable to travel. However, he was confident that opening borders would revitalise the market – and that one could expect high demand.
Sandeep Vohra, chief executive, Technology Investments at Roseview Investment & Advisors, added that use of new medical technologies offered great opportunities for tourism. There were numerous promising startups in this field, which gave hope for a genuine revolution in medical tourism.
Ivana Kolar, CEO of Julius Rose, was certain that the market could only recover if it took sustainable tourism into account. “Social distancing does not go well with mass tourism products“, the consultant said. Furthermore, many providers were already preparing to help people suffering from the effects of long Covid. “People are ready to invest in their healthcare more than ever.“