European Medical Tourism Conference in AbanoTerme, Italy brings to light Europe’s medical and wellness tourism potential – Event review by Anna Guchok
AbanoTerme, the quaint town in the Venetta region of north-east Italy, recently hosted the European Medical Tourism (EMT) conference from 25th -27th November 2019. Another significant meet, EMT was aimed to discuss and create opportunities for health and wellness tourism market of Italy, in-fact for entire Europe.
The event was a great success. It was meticulously arranged by the prime organizer Maria Antonietta Princivalle who left no stone unturned for the comfort of every guest. She is also the founder of WorldFineSelections.com & BookingsMed.com with proven experience in luxury and medical tourism. She got whole-hearted support from Natalia Strakovska, the owner and editor-in-chief of medical tourism journal DoctorGeo, an entrepreneur with 18 years of experience in the medical field. Special words of praise for Adilya Satybaldiyeva as well, together they brought nearly 100 buyers from several countries.
The presence of Dr Prem & Associates was eminent. Dr Prem Jagyasi, the renowned global speaker delivered the keynote speech and conducted a successful workshop. Presentations and discussions on Italy’s offerings in medical and wellness tourism and its prospects took the center stage of the meet. Anna Guchok also represented Dr Prem and Associates at the event.
Reputed speakers, sellers and buyers mainly from the CIS countries, Russia, the US, the UK and other European countries attended the conference. Among them were Violetta Yanyshevskaya, Anna Guchok, Olga Novikova, Adilya Satybaldiyeva, Igor Torskyy, Ana Laura Ramirez, Sonia Proietti Checchi, Stefania Tielli, Elena Davidof, Denis Lobkov, Mark Limanov – Natalia Strokovska – Antonio Vezzoso – Dr Leopoldo Comisso – Gruppo San Donato – GruppoGiomi – Simone Mingiacchi – Casa di CuraPio XI – Prof Paolo Moreira – Analiza Aguirre – Modus Harmoniae – Losiv Florin Iosif – Anita Kornaska – Maddie Bacarelli – Dr Kampolat – Dr Michael Vastardis , Irena Federici – Susan Meipei, Susan Liu, Khatskevich Natalia, Tatiana Malyshka, Paola Ossari, Dr Giovanni Fabbrico, Marianna Babiuk,NairiEranossian, Yelena Kim, Gal Miruna and Kristin M Stensrud.
Vacationing in Italy is always good for your soul. It carries an irresistible charm that few destinations in the world can offer. But you have something good for health as well. The country is growing in “turismo sanitario”, the Italian expression of medical or health tourism.
Medical tourism in Europe took an interesting turn with the adoption of the EU agreement a few years back. It permitted citizens of 28 EU countries to avail treatments in any of the Union countries. Surveys reveal, nearly 53% of citizens of EU nations are willing to avail beyond the border healthcare in Europe. According to hticonference.com, Italy holds 17% of the medical tourism market share in Europe equivalent to € 2billion. International observers believe it could touch € 4 billion.
Italy has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. The country offers top quality specialized treatments in oncology, cardiovascular ailments, bariatric surgery, neurology and orthopedics. Italian hospitals with JCI accreditation rank high in other European hospitals.
Italians, normally, need not move out of their homeland for medical care unless it is due to incredibly low cost and other associated quality facilities. However, studies show nearly 200,000 Italian patients travel abroad for some treatments and a quarter of this goes for low cost but high-quality dental care. This is easily available in east European countries like Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Albania. All-inclusive packages of these destinations including traveling and site seeing support make it a great selling point to willing Italians.
On the other side, studies report, only 5000 international travelers mainly from Arab countries, Russia, Switzerland Albania come to Italy for medical treatments. They spend nearly €20000-70000 only on treatment costs leaving aside the tourism expenses. This is a point to reckon. They prefer putting up in starred accommodations and enjoy the natural landscape and other cultural and historical attractions with their families or alone.
According to the Global Wellness Summit, Europe ranks number one in the world in wellness tourism trips and revenue generation. Italy ranks among the top ten global destinations in wellness tourism-related activities in spas and thermal springs. Apart from nature, culture and cuisine, Italy’s Thermal spas are world famous.
The country nurtures a great culture in healing with thermal springs dating a few hundred years back. With the growing craze of wellness tourism, Italian Spa Towns and terme (natural hot springs) are well within the wellness radar.
Irrespective of the part of Italy you visit, you are bound to find some sort of spa and thermal springs. Be it for relaxation, therapeutic or natural exploration, Italian Spa towns and terme cater to a range of travelers. Many spas have in-house doctors and well-trained staff.
The best part is these spas and terme are also offering rehab programs along with treatments for chronic ailments smartly integrating cosmetic therapies, cultural, leisure and sports activities. Specially designed Italian menus add a different flavor to the curated spa programs.
Abano Terme is a serene spa resort allowing wellness seekers to enjoy a range of spa and mud therapies in thermal pools. It creates a perfect wellness ambience where travelers can relax and spend long leisure hours or go for cultural exploration. From the wellness and medical tourism perspective, venue for the European Medical Tourism Conference perfectly goes with the objective.
Medical tourism in Italy has a promising future the way it is growing both from positional advantage and public funding. It requires more coordinated target-oriented efforts to make it sustainable. With the existing infrastructure facilities and right developmental support, it can turn into an integrated medical and wellness tourism spot.
Therefore, this site is of immense significance while talking of developing the medical and wellness tourism market in Italy. It was a big opportunity for global stakeholders to reinforce networking and information sharing with great promises for market development.
EMT’ 19 took off on 25th November amidst a splendid gathering of internationally reputed speakers and professionals. It was a stimulating and inspiring event. Dr. Prem’s keynote speech drove home the objective of the conference which was lauded by the audience.
The opening day saw another interesting event. It was Dr. Prem’s workshop with appreciable participation of about 100 professionals from different fields.The extensive 2-hour session was aimed at ‘Developing Medical Tourism Business through Advance Technologies and Strategic Marketing’.
He discussed about medical tourism trends, opportunities and challenges and strategies concerning to European medical tourism and how Italy needs to catch up with it.As an expert trainer and a recognized consultant in medical and wellness tourism, Dr. Prem’s motivation in this signature workshop meant a lot to the participants. They could easily grasp the nuances of the business.
He covered other vital points like the positioning of business, marketing strategies of hospitals, hotels and thermal resorts, creating international patient department, brand building, social media and online reputation management and many more.
He displayed his expertise by creating a superb interactive session.Participants took more interest and they did not hesitate in coming up with interesting queries. Rounds of applause imparted a great feeling to the trainer and trainees. The feedback and queries that followed said all about the success of the workshop.
The 1st-day session had other insightful speeches and panel discussions. Notable of them were presentations on Clusters and Consortia as an effective tool for boosting medical tourism- initiatives of different countries and Medical and wellness tourism integration. Medical tourism may not be longer associated only with medical care and treatments but would cover all aspects of healthcare and wellness.
Natalia Strakovska, one of the main organizers, delivered an insightful speech on Marketing in Russian and how to attract a Russian speaking patient. She also talked of outbound and inbound medical tourism in CIS countries.
Russian travelers in Italy record the highest overnight stays. Their overall spending while vacationing in Italy has increased considerably for the last few years. Creating special strategies for Russian travelers needs special attention. Presentations of other speakers offered deeper viewpoints in hospitality management and trending healthcare issues relevant to prospective medical travelers of this country.
The 2nd day of the meet witnessed impressive presentations of sponsors and speakers. 80 local hospitals and resorts and 100 buyers from different countries were present. The most impressive was the representatives from the Russian speaking countries sharing insights on attracting Russian travelers in the Italian market. Russian wellness and medical travelers have a fascination to visit Italy. They enjoy beach vacations here and take interest in balneotherapy, mud therapy and other spa activities.
Maria Antonietta Princivalle, the lead organizer talked of bookingsMed.com platform and how it will help in guiding prospective travelers in availing treatments and spa facilities.
The next attraction was the presentation on Thermal Treatments in Abano e Montegrotto. Italy needs to effectively promote its huge reserves of thermal/mineral springs and its potential in the market. A B2B workshop was organized on the same day where buyers were found to be active in networking and establishing long-term relationships creating the possibility of attractive business proposals.
The last day of the meet was reserved for SPA hotels site inspection. This was appropriate given the objective of the meet. AbanoTerme houses many categories of hotels and resorts suiting everybody’s pocket. Product and service offerings vary with the cost and quality, expert professionals had a taste of it.
Developing an integrated medical and wellness approach calls for special strategic developments. Expert opinions on different spa sites to meet medical travelers’ requirements matter.
Prior to traveling to AbanoTerme, Ms. Anna Guchok, the Chief Associate of Dr. Prem & Associates, caught up with Mr. Stefano Urbani for meaningful interaction about Italy’s Medical and Wellness Tourism status. Mr. Urbani representing Turismo Medico Italia, founded in 2012, provided some interesting information.
Glimpses of the chat shared below signify the importance of EMT in Italy when the world travel market is being dominated by wellness-related trips.
Anna Guchok: Good Morning Mr. Stefano. Nice to meet you. Facilitators like you are playing a significant role in Italy’s wellness and medical tourism market growth. How do you see this event from the medical tourism perspective?
Mr. Stefano: Thank you. Nice to meet you too. As a CEO and Co-founder of Turismo Medico Italia, I am happy to share my experience related to it. Yes, Italy is growing in medical and wellness tourism. My company deals with both inbound and outbound tourists. It was nice to see so many business discussions. I will always like to see more tourists coming here for health and wellness purposes and its only possible when we have good support system for patients and over company does provide quality and ethical support system.
Anna: Can you please tell me something about inbound and outbound medical tourism in Italy?
Stefano: Well, you see inbound medical tourists here are mainly from Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia UAE, Russia and other Russian speaking countries. Russians look for oncology treatments here. Tourists from the Gulf region seek treatments in cardiology.
In outbound tourism, Italians mainly look for low-cost dental treatments in Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary and Poland. For hair transplants, they visit Turkey, Greece and the Czech Republic. Some Italians also go to Spain and the Czech Republic for IVF treatments.
Anna: Why for IVF Italians have to travel out of home?
You see there are lots of legal restrictions in IVF treatment here. Age is another factor. The maximum permissible age depends of the region, average for IVF is 43. Surrogacy is also prohibited in Italy. As no married couples or common-law couple, lesbian couple and single women’s. Therefore, childless couples have to go to other countries for fertility solutions.
Anna: How is the healthcare system of Italy?
Stefano: The public healthcare system is very good here. All citizens are well covered in different treatments be it in public, private or both private-public facilities. But sometimes the long waiting list forces Italians travel out of the country for treatment. They also look for the cost-effective options in other countries.Otherwise, Italians are not required to travel beyond the border for this purpose.
Anna: AbanoTerme is a popular name in Italy’s thermal tourism. What are other famous thermal spa destinations here?
Stefano: Yes, AbanoTerme is very famous. You have spa waters, historic centers and other attractive spots. Hotels are plenty. All are 2, 3, 4 and 5-starred. Tourists can easily select according to their budget. But there are others too. Montecatini Terme, Castrocaro Terme, Ischia, these are all visited mainly by Russian speaking people. But everywhere in Italy, you will find one or two thermal resorts
Anna: What do you feel about the medical and wellness tourism prospects in Italy?
Stefano: The prospects are high. Italy is loved by global travelers. We have so much to offer in medical treatments and wellness so many thermal springs and spa destinations. We are hopeful travelers from many countries will take interest in Italy’s facilities and services.
Thank you, Mr. Stefano, for the valuable information and your time.
Thank you. Wish to see you here again.