ITB Berlin keeps medical travel niche

Despite war in Europe, there is a growing sense of optimism as borders open and people want to travel, according to medical and health tourism speakers at the ITB Berlin global tourism trade convention and conference.

One common theme discussed was tourism and medical tourism destinations moving from high numbers to lower numbers with higher quality so increasing both revenue and profit. Other discussions covered coronavirus recovery concepts in medical spas and climate health resorts and current challenges for medical tourism buyers and suppliers.  Alessandra Priante of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), spoke of a very positive outlook for medical tourism but with a strong shift to wellness.

One speaker from The Agencia Catalana de Tourismo talked about Barcelona as a medical destination. Barcelona Medical Destination (BMD), a platform of medical centres, hospitals and clinics promoting Barcelona and Catalonia as a destination, claimed that pre-pandemic, the region had attracted 20,000 international patients.

The European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA) highlighted advised that a new travel TV series, the Amazing Spa Towns, was filmed in seven of the association’s member towns in Italy, Czechia.  It will be screened on SKY TV in the UK initially, before going online on the Globetrotter TV
platform and YouTube.

The ITB Medical Tourism Destination Award 2022 was given to the Slovak Spa Association for a range of work including treatment in medical spas and obesity prevention.

European health platform HTI stated that it estimated that the global market for medical tourism will rise from US$4.4 billion in 2020 to US$7 billion in 2025, and called for an ease to travel restrictions, combined with the highest possible safety and hygiene standards.

A new tourism report by ITB Berlin and Statista Q suggests that while 2021 was better than 2020, and early 2022 is far better than 2021, full recovery is not expected until 2024. Travellers are increasingly looking to use new technology and that personalisation to the customer is increasingly vital. The report stated that digital nomad travellers who move to and between countries is a new category which is still not fully understood other than that they behave differently to either holiday or business travellers.