Friday, 14 January 2022

Renowned Health Resort In Istria to Introduce Senior Housing, Focus on Foreign Markets

Istarske Toplice is a renowned thermal health spa resort in central Istria offering a wide range of health care, wellness and fitness services. Their new plan to introduce independent living facilities for persons aged 55+ has already drawn interest from Slovenia, Italy, and Croats in diaspora

As of January 2022, the popular health resort in Istria has a new director who’s planning to turn things around after the pandemic dealt their business a blow. The new director of Istarske Toplice Vlado Mezak discussed his plans with Glas Istre on January 13th, 2022.

‘I’ve approached my new position with a vision to keep developing medical and tourism services that will take us to the top ranks of health tourism in Croatia and beyond. After all, we’re at a location with more than 75 million people living within the radius of 500 kilometres. The resources are there, Istarske Toplice ranks among the top three thermal springs in Europe based on the water quality and its curative properties’, said Mezak.

Business was thriving before the pandemic struck, so much so that the company was about to start an investment cycle in early 2020. And then…

‘We saw a drop from 35,000 overnight stays in 2019 to 10,000 stays in 2020. Last year there was an increase during summer so things were slightly better, but still half as much as in 2019. Energy prices increased, and we had additional expenses because of Covid’, said director Mezak.

‘The state did help us in 2020 and 2021 to some extent, but this year there’s no support for our business segment. We’re in a situation where we have to come up with new business models that will help us get through the crisis’, said the new director, adding that the resort is only booked at 10% of its full capacity at the moment.

As expected, it’s a situation they don’t find satisfactory, but are actively working to turn things around. They are planning short-term activities that are expected to attract more guests, and are modifying some of their packages to highlight their affordability, the quality of their health services and the benefits of visiting a health spa.

‘We will be offering anti-stress packages, as well as post-Covid rehabilitation which is sorely needed these days’, explained Mezak.

Istarske Toplice has a total of 148 hotel rooms, 120 in Hotel Mirna and 20 in Hotel Sv. Stjepan; there are some 250 beds available to resort guests.

So far, domestic guests made up the majority of their visitor count, growing from 55% in 2018 to 78% in 2021. As far as international visitors are concerned, the resort mostly saw guests from Italy and Slovenia who either stay for the weekend, or book one-week or two-week rehabilitation programmes.

The management is now planning to focus more on foreign markets, namely Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Germany.

Another major plan is in the works for the health spa, according to its owner and Chairman of the Board Mirko Kliman.

Named ‘Quality of life +55’, the project would introduce senior housing at the resort, i.e. independent living units for persons over the age of 55. The project is worth 30 million kuna; Kliman is expecting to get EU funding to cover 50-70 percent of the sum, and he will personally finance the other part.

Existing facilities at the resort would thus be partially reconstructed to create the new housing units. Some 100 hotel rooms will be remodelled into 40 apartments, accommodating sixty to seventy tenants who will also have access to other available facilities and services at the resort. According to the owner, they don’t lack interest.

‘When we first started to elaborate the project a few years ago, we conducted a survey and received 114 applications in the span of 15 days, most of which came from Slovenia, Italy, and from Croats living abroad’, said Kliman.

They’ll soon be applying for EU funding and if everything goes according to plan, implementation of the project could begin in late autumn.

‘Quality of life +55’ would enable the tenants to live a carefree life at a quiet location, with access to additional services and facilities at the health spa, such as medical consultations, a thermal pool and a heated pool, a wellness centre, a fitness centre, and more.

Kliman says it’s the only such project in Croatia as far as he’s aware, as this housing concept is still more prevalent in western European countries. ‘It’s a modern approach to growing old’, he says.


Thursday, 14 October 2021

CIHT Conference to Gather International Health Tourism Experts in Crikvenica

October 14, 2021 - The region's most influential health tourism conference, the Crikvenica International Health Tourism Conference (CIHT Conference), will be held on November 4 and 5, 2021, for the ninth year in a row at the Hotel Katarina in Selce.

The organizers are the Crikvenica Tourist Board and the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster. This year in a hybrid edition, the conference is traditionally held in English and will bring together world-renowned experts in the fields of health, tourism, marketing, and education, to review the latest trends in health tourism, exchange experiences, and find new ways to communicate in these pandemic times, reports T.portal.

"Although this year COVID-19 fills newspaper columns and front pages of portals, in our environment, the need for health services and health tourism, in general, does not cease, and Kvarner and Crikvenica have much to offer everyone who needs recovery, rich sea air, and mild climate. Business conditions and promotions fully take on solutions and views on the settings and development of a diverse tourist offer, especially health tourism. Distinguished speakers will share their knowledge and experience," said Dr. Vladimir Mozetič, president of the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster, which will be attended by, among others, Dr. Mario Škugor, endocrinologist and director of education of the prestigious American Clinic Cleveland, Velimir Šonje, economic analyst, and many others.

Over the years, CIHT has hosted excellent experts from all over the world who, with the amount of knowledge and experience, make a valuable asset in further progress and promotion of health and health tourism in the region. This year's ninth CIHT conference continues to contribute to applying current theoretical knowledge and trends in practice, emphasizing the strategic importance of the development of health tourism in Croatia with an efficient connection to foreign and domestic markets. Along with top lecturers, the conference's priority is the best possible quality of content that abounds in interesting, educational, innovative, and current topics and workshops.

The director of the Crikvenica Tourist Board, Marijana Biondić, and the leader of the CIHT conference pointed out that she is incredibly proud of another edition of the conference, which will be the best so far:

"This tourist year has confirmed the position and importance of Kvarner as a favorite EU destination. Safe, reliable, with an increasingly high-quality offer of accommodation and experiences, the Crikvenica Riviera is in full swing, and health tourism has the opportunity to lead this trend."

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Weekend for Health With Exercise and Relaxation Activities in Ivanić-Grad

June 8, 2021 - For all those looking to put the troubled past and stress behind them, the Weekend for Health event in Ivanić-Grad may be the solution. The city's tourist board has organized a full program of relaxation, exercise, and meditation activities on June 12 and 13.

After several months of isolation, which affected the physical and mental health of people, it is time for citizens to relax and "reset" in Ivanić-Grad. A series of free activities aimed at health, as part of the Weekend for Health event, will be held at the Zelenjak Sports Park next to the Naftalan Special Hospital and at their new swimming pools, in compliance with all epidemiological measures, reported Turističke Priče today.

Those who want to swim for free can do so on Saturday and Sunday, from 9 am to 7 pm at the new SB Naftalan pools. For those younger, from 7 to 10 years, a swimming school is organized both days, while adults will be able to enjoy functional training, aqua aerobics, and senior Pilates. In addition to swimming pools, sugar and blood pressure measurements will be organized in the morning, as well as a series of lectures and workshops on the topic of active aging, running, stretching, aromatherapy, how to cook for children, and more.


Ivanić-Grad Tourist Board

On both days of the Weekend for Health event, people of all ages will be able to rent props for table tennis, badminton, bowling, play tennis on the tennis courts, and have a good time. The youngest ones can join the workshop for making puppets, and there will also be acting for children from 10 am. From 4 pm, they are provided with entertainment by dancing or playing on the training ground. Adults can relax during this time with breathing exercises, sun salutations, or a gong bath. If you are not ready for exercise and an active weekend, you can watch the Croatian Junior Crossbow Championship, children's handball tournament, or streetball. Explore Ivanić and find out which are the three black gold medals of Moslavina on an interesting educational walk with a guide on Saturday and Sunday at 11 am.

You can take a break with healthy snacks in Caffe bar Naftalan 2, Dribbling Food Caffe, or Café bar Zelenjak. Local products can be found at a small fair of local family farms. Enjoy an open-air concert by Jelena Mesarić and Saša Tadić by the old pool on Saturday night from 8 pm.

In order for us all to remain healthy, safe, and happy, care must be taken to adhere to epidemiological measures. Therefore, the number of seats in some groups is limited and it is advisable to reserve your seat in advance. For group training organized by the Special Hospital Naftalan, you can do it by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone on 01 2834 533. For other content, there is an e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or number 01 2881 591. In case there is bad weather, events will be unfortunately canceled.

There will be no shortage of rich events for the rest of the month. A weekend for wellness and recreation awaits you at the Petek Excursion Site and the Sport Hotel on June 19 and 20. Next, June 26, a weekend in nature, ie hiking in the Marča forest and a visit to the Kezele Rural Tourism. Detailed information about entertainment events is available on Facebook and the website of the Ivanić-Grad Tourist Board.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Development of Health Tourism: High Priority for Croatian Tourist Offer

March 25, 2021 - Both the Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sports and Croatian tourist boards recognised the development of health tourism as a high priority for Croatia.

To discuss the development of health tourism in Croatia, a branch that is becoming one of the more important Croatian tourist products, Croatian Tourism and Sports minister Nikolina Brnjac met with Kvarner Tourist Board director Irena Peršić Živadinov, Kvarner Health Tourism cluster president Vladimir Možetič, and Zagreb Tourist Board director Martina Bienenfeld. As life expectancy and healthy lifestyle trends increase, the value of health tourism grows. The novel coronavirus only made that growth even more rapid.

"Over 80,000 tourists in 2020 visited Kvarner (well-known for Lošinj Island and its hospital for respiratory issues) for health services. Today, many people are recovering from the consequences of the novel coronavirus there," said the Kvarner Tourist Board director Živadinov.  

"We have all the advantages for further development of health tourism: a good reputation of health services, qualified staff, natural richness of thermal sources, good climate, and long tradition of tourism," said minister Brnjac. Her goal is to pull Croatia out of the perception of a country only good for the summer season.

Croatia offers health services in wellness and medicine tourism. Health tourism is most associated with the regions of Kvarner, Istria, northern Croatia, and Zagreb, but the goal is to include other regions that have the potential for health tourism and to achieve the goals of a strategy that needs to be accomplished by 2030.

Martina Bienenfeld said that the Zagreb Tourist Board is working on the City's recognition as the centre of medical excellence. She pointed out good traffic connections, a mixture of the Mediterranean and mid-Europe climate, as well as good prices of health services as great advantages of Croatia's capital to the international clientele.

The Health Care Bill and Services in Tourism Bill now allow hospitality and health tourism services in hospitals and medical centres. These legal changes are also significant in attracting further investments in the field.

For more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Thursday, 5 November 2020

Health and Wellness Tourism Opportunities Discussed at Adriatic Region Investment Forum

November 5, 2020 – At the Adriatic Region Investment Forum held yesterday in Zagreb Hotel Westin, participants discussed health and wellness tourism opportunities in Croatia and the Adriatic region.

As part of the fourth Adriatic Region Investment Forum for Health, Sports, and Tourism, held yesterday at the Westin Hotel in Zagreb, numerous potentials of Croatia and the entire Adriatic region were presented as year-round health tourism destinations.

Under the new circumstances, panelists and lecturers were filmed in a set-up studio in the hall of the Westin Hotel, and the forum could be followed online.

Projects of new tourist capacities

Of course, the topic of the coronavirus pandemic and the new circumstances that it brought in health tourism could not have been avoided. Dr. Prem Jagyasi (India-UAE), one of the world's most important experts and promoters in health tourism, gave a lecture on integrating wellness programs into the global health and medical tourism industry and was also joined by Dr. Lutz Lungwitz, President of the German Association of Medical Wellness, Emin Cakmak, founder of the Global Healthcare Travel Council from Turkey, and Dr. Jeana Havidich from the USA (Association of Croatian American Professionals).

The presentation of the prepared projects is a special feature of this Investment Forum, and several projects of new hospitals and other health and tourism capacities in Croatia and the region have been offered, as well as large health tourist resorts.

A synergy of rural and health tourism

The panel "Food as a resource in tourism" provoked an interesting discussion in which the multidisciplinary nature of the participants enabled possible new directions for the development of rural areas in Croatia. The synergy of rural and health tourism can strengthen the production, but also the settlement of rural areas, especially in the next financial period (2021-2027) in which such development will be encouraged, especially if it is set as one of the strategic developments of the Republic of Croatia.

Tugomir Majdak, State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Marcel Medak (President of the Health Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce), Assistant Professor Sanja Music Milanovic (HZJZ), Zeljko Ivancevic (Consultant - ECS Brussels), and John Raffetto (American Adriatic Health Ltd, Washington DC) participated in this panel.

AI in health and rural tourism

Another interesting panel entitled "Challenges of the application of artificial intelligence in health and rural tourism" is the work of experts from the company Infodom, which was the main sponsor of the Forum this year. About this interesting and instructive topic through the application of new technologies, Hrvoje Sagrak, President of the Management Board of Infodom, Ph.D. Silvana Tomić Rotim, director of the Croatian Institute for Informatics, Mislav Malenica, president of the CRO.AI association, and Vidović, a founder of Infodom, gave their opinions.


Source: Adriatic Region Investment Forum

Sports and health infrastructure

In previous years, the topic of sports was opened at the Forum as part of what is important for the branding of Croatia, and this year again one of the panels is dedicated to this topic. The intention was to emphasize the need for sports infrastructure as a basis to be able to brand sports potential in various sports in which Croatia achieves above-average results.

Sports infrastructure, including human resources, is a strong basis for fitting the sports offer into the overall year-round tourism offer. The last, but very interesting and energetic panel entitled "Sports and health infrastructure in the branding of sustainable tourism" was attended by Ranko Ćetković, Assistant Secretary General of the COC, Igor Jukić, Ph.D. Miljenko Bura and a pioneer of the health industry, prim.dr. Vlasta Brozičević from Terme Selce.

Terms and circumstances of investing in Croatia

The investment forum was opened by the envoy of the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, State Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Tonči Glavina, and introductory speeches were given by the envoy of the Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić, Ana Pandža Kunčević, Violetta Yanshevskaja (who spoke from Kiev), President of Global Healthcare Travel Council, and the main organizer Miljenko Bura.

Some of the main names on the list of speakers are Jakša Puljiz (Institute for Development and International Relations), Tonči Glavina, State Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Šime Erlić, State Secretary at the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, Jurica Mateša from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, and John Gašparac (PWC Croatia), who also moderated an interesting and informative panel which discussed the stimulating conditions and circumstances of investing in Croatia.

Special emphasis was placed on the topicality of "European" money, which must contribute to faster achievement of strategic goals of the National Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia until 2030. Invitation and messages were sent to interested investors to create preconditions for intensive investment in the next ten years.

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Saturday, 1 August 2020

Croatian Tourism: Croatia Has Chance to Brand Itself as Health Destination

As Novac writes on the 31st of July, 2020, according to all strategies for the development of Croatian tourism's offer, health tourism has a priority role, but this segment has also suffered a heavy blow due to the coronavirus pandemic. On the other hand, The appearance of the new coronavirus has forced us to become much more aware of the importance of health on a global scale, which could be a great advantage in the development of Croatia as a leading destination for health tourism in the future.

Marcel Medak, president of the Health Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) and director of Sunčane toplice, agrees. He believes that in the future, the demand of patients for certain services, such as for the rehabilitation of chronic diseases, will fall, but he also sees this as a great chance for institutions that are ready to turn more strongly towards the health tourism market.

"I'd especially like to emphasise thallasotherapy, it uses marine natural healing factors that have a beneficial effect on the respiratory system, which is especially important in these pandemic times. This is an opportunity to use all our of potential and put a lot of hotels along the coast into the function of health tourism, which would significantly extend the existing tourist season. However, one of the key preconditions for that is the privatisation of special hospitals and health resorts, which is stated in the Action Plan for the Development of Health Tourism in the Republic of Croatia prepared by the Institute for Tourism,'' Medak points out, adding that it is crucial to connect all stakeholders, and that the HGK's Health Tourism Community should play a key role.

Terme Tuhelj Management Board Advisor Ivana Kolar believes that the Law which enables the registration of economic activity in health tourism brings great benefits with it, primarily for special hospitals and health centres that have not operated as companies and were as such not in the VAT system.

"Private entities operating on the open market and financing their business exclusively from sales activities depend on the quality of their services, communication with the market and their innovation, which motivates them to go forward with vcontinuous development and is the only long-term sustainable business model. It's necessary to soften the borders between special hospitals, rehabilitation and wellness centres in order to get closer to European standards of health tourism and provide guests with a richer service,'' said Kolar, and Medak agrees that such regulations bring about much more transparent business, simpler tax policies and a simpler employee recruitment procedure.

Krešimir Škof, deputy director of the Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation Stubičke Toplice, which is also registered for health tourism, emphasises that the new legislative framework is good because there is no need to establish a subsidiary, but everything is done "under the same hat". However, he says that the registration of the activity itself means nothing if it isn't accompanied by an adequate offer.

"If the facilities are old and of poor quality, if the service doesn't meet the criteria of a demanding market and if there's no evidence of quality, then there can be no progress in the market. We've invested in our workers, services and facilities for years - over 80 million kuna has been invested in the last ten years,'' said Škof.

Another great strength of health tourism for Croatian tourism is that most of the facilities are located in the interior of Croatia and provide great potential for the development of continental tourism, and good examples of such development can be seen in Croatia's neighbouring countries. Strengthening continental tourism capacities would bring about more balanced economic development and reduce seasonality, but the precondition for all this is a quality and well-educated workforce. All our interlocutors agree with this, so they're paying special attention to their employees and their education.

In addition to the existing educational institutions, the Regional Centre of Competence in Tourism and Hospitality in Zabok will soon be established. The centre should contribute to the education of future staff needed in this sector, adult education and the monitoring of new technologies and trends across the rest of Europe and the world, and this is especially welcomed in the already popular Terme Tuhelj.

"Terme Tuhelj has always actively cooperated with the hospitality school in Zabok, which is the foundation of the development of the competence centre, and we'll be very happy to involve all those who actively participate in the development of tourism in its work and activities. It's difficult when it comes to staff working in tourism in the whole of Croatia, and Zagorje is no exception, so Terme has developed internal protocols for training, education and the further development of its employees, from the point of their employment to their entire career. There have been cases of hiring foreign staff, but in small numbers, so for now the team is managing to fill up with staff from Croatia, mostly from Zagorje and the surrounding areas,'' said Horvat, and Medak thinks similarly, pointing out that in Sunčane toplice they had no problems finding workers, as well as other employers in health tourism.

"The biggest staffing problem is the chronic shortage of specialist doctors that we had in Sunčane toplice, so we imported two doctors from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia," explaind Medak, concluding that currently, the biggest challenge is the promotion of health tourism, especially through the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ), for which it is necessary to significantly increase funds.

For more on Croatian tourism in the coronavirus era, follow our travel page.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Biograd na Moru Looks to Health Tourism, Wants Leading Gerontology Center in EU

September 21, 2019 - Could Biograd na Moru be Croatia's next big health tourism destination?

HRTurizam writes that the last session of the Biograd City Council discussed the strategy of developing medical tourism in Biograd na Moru.

The Strategy of Development of Biograd na Moru has defined tourism as one of the main drivers of economic development, especially health tourism, where Biograd na Moru sees a great opportunity. The backbone of all is the Biograd Special Orthopedic Hospital in the heart of the Adriatic, with an ideal climate according to the Koppen classification.

As Biograd na Moru points out, the proposal for a Decision on adopting the Strategy for the Development of Medical Tourism in Biograd na Moru was presented by a Ph.D Branko Vitale, MD. 

“Biograd has an ideal climate for climate therapy and medical-rehabilitation tourism, which includes a gerontology and geriatric center. The project is being prepared for an international competition in Norway, and we have a lot of support from the Ministry of Health and the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP), an association of American professionals from Croatia,” said Vitale, who launched the Biograd Initiative for the Medical-Tourism Center project.

Namely, the US mega clinic Cleveland Clinic, which is led by Croatian Tomislav Mihaljevic and employs over 60,000 people, has 7.5 million patients and annual revenues of about $10 billion. The annual ACAP conference will be held on September 21, which will present the Biograd project of medical-rehabilitation tourism within a 15-minute presentation. 

“Biograd na Moru, with its health and tourism facilities, has all the preconditions to develop into the leading gerontology and geriatric center of the European Union, by providing a fully-rounded medical-rehabilitation, tourism, and cultural center. All these activities additionally ensure the use of all quality accommodation facilities and thus year-round employment, not only in Biograd, but also in the wider region,” says Vitale, pointing out the construction of a large retirement village not far from the Adria Hotel.

Vitale adds that the center will be operated according to the Scandinavian model. Moreover, the Orthopedic Hospital is the backbone of the development of Biograd, and in four years, it must be at the EU level, or it will not be, according to Vitale.

The climate therapy and medical-rehabilitation tourism project, which also includes the gerontology and geriatric center in Biograd, is supported by the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP), an association of American professionals from Croatia, whose members represent all sides of the international professional community, such as scientists, doctors, engineers, lawyers, artists, journalists, business executives, accountants, and more.

The newly reconstructed system of the hospital as an integral part of the cluster envisages the Center for Geriatric Orthopedics, the first Croatian Center for Gerontology and Geriatrics, the Rehabilitation Center, the Specialist Counselling Center and the Education Center.

"We have potential investors, primarily Norwegians. We have already been to Norway, and they will come to Biograd twice by the end of the year, so that we can receive lessons for applying for an international competition to the Government of Norway and the University Hospital in Oslo for the construction of a gerontology and geriatric center in Biograd. The Germans are interested in Red Harbor for their health needs, mainly respiratory diseases and asthma. Here, as in the Adria Hotel, there is excellent accommodation for the patients of the gerontology and geriatric center. A retirement village will be built near the Adria Hotel, which will accommodate over 500 people, and a tourist complex with thousands of beds will be built on the island of Pasman. These are all potential users of the Gerontology and Geriatric Center, and flight connections with Norway, America, and other countries will be established,” says Vitale, adding that it is necessary to form a Dalmatia cluster to enter the world market in cooperation with Kvarner.

The mentioned medical content is aimed primarily at the treatment of diseases of the third age, which requires a lot of professionals, emphasizes Vitale, and concludes: “The project of the medical-tourist orthopedic-rehabilitation center in Biograd is bound to succeed. We have Norwegians and Americans, and the City of Biograd. We also have good personal relationships with people who want to help Biograd and Croatia. All heads should go under one cap. We in Biograd, Zadar County and the Republic of Croatia must be unique in this project of the century. If there is a setback, the project can slow down but not stop.”

Finally, it should be noted that the Decision on submitting a letter of intent to exercise the founding rights and obligations of the Special Orthopedic Hospital was made at the City Council of Biograd na Moru.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

ESPA Conference: Health Tourism Seen as a Chance to Extend Tourist Season

ZAGREB, May 9, 2019 - Health tourism is a great opportunity for Croatia to extend the tourist season, increase its off-season services and attract higher-profile tourists, it was said on Thursday at the formal opening of the annual meeting of the European Spas Association (ESPA), the umbrella organisation that promotes health tourism, which is taking place in the north-western spa town of Tuhelj until May 10.

The conference has brought together representatives of 21 European countries who will be discussing the latest trends and innovation in health tourism. The event was co-organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) in partnership with the Croatian National Tourism Board (HTZ).

It was said that health tourism was the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry, growing at an annual rate of between 15 and 20 percent.

HTZ director Kristjan Staničić said he was confident that health tourism would grow considerably in the years ahead and that Croatia could definitely be competitive in this sector. He said that health tourism did not depend on the sun and sea and could help extend the tourist season, both along the Adriatic coast and in continental Croatia.

Citing the TOMAS Summer 2017 survey, Staničić said that seven percent of tourists visiting Croatia did so for health reasons and eight percent to visit spas.

Dragan Kovačević, the HGK vice-president for agriculture and tourism, said that health tourism was a great opportunity for Croatia to increase its tourist services in the off-season, adding that a mild climate and the high quality of health services were the country's advantages in that regard.

Assistant tourism minister Olivera Šarić that 15 percent of all tourist travels were motivated by health reasons. She said that the potential for the development of health tourism as a year-round business was extraordinary and that health tourism was included in the Croatian Tourism Development Strategy until 2020, noting health tourists spent between 20 and 30 percent more than the average.

The ESPA conference is taking place under the motto "Secrets of life balance - A life full of well-being". It will discuss new trends and innovations through presentations of best practice and new market niches in spa and wellness tourism. ESPA Innovation Awards will be presented for innovation and excellence in providing medical spa services.

More health tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

From the UAE to Zagreb and Croatia for Medical Treatment

For a long time now, we've been trying to show and tell people that Croatia is far, far more than just the sun and the sea. Sure, the sparkling Adriatic and the warm climate is of course a big draw for many who take to Croatia's beautiful coastline every summer, but those who think that's all that this incredible little country has to offer are sadly mistaken.

I'm not just talking about the more encouraging numbers of tourists starting to uncover continental Croatia, Eastern Croatia and the country's various hidden gems, but about the Croatia which lies outside of the tourism bubble entirely, well... almost.

Tourism makes up a large part of Croatia's GDP and there's no denying that it is by far the country's strongest economic branch, this is not always a particularly positive thing and owing to it, Croatia has been plagued by enormous seasonality in terms of the economy and the labour market. Unemployment traditionally drops quite suddenly and by a significant amount during the run up to the bustling summer tourist season, especially on the coast, and then rises once again come the end of October thanks to the attempted lengthening of the tourist season, if not before.

Now a victim to a demographic crisis, mass emigration thanks to the country's membership of the EU's single market and a strange paradox in which there are no jobs but plenty of would-be employees but also many jobs and nobody who wants to do them, it's becoming more and more obvious that despite it being the country's strongest economic branch, relying almost entirely on tourist money might not be the best plan. 

So, what else does Croatia have? It has some excellent doctors and nurses and many truly outstanding medical facilities. As Croatia tries to position itself as much more than ''just sea and sunshine'', medical tourism, or perhaps better to say ''health tourism'' has begun to take off, and with some promising results. Just recently, Donald Trump's first wife, Ivana, was in Zagreb for eye surgery at the well known Svjetlost clinic, where she underwent a procedure to restore her vision to normality and afford her a life without glasses and/or contact lenses. People like Ivana catch people's attention, and she's just one of many who have found their way to Croatia for a procedure of some sort.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes on the 29th of April, 2019, tourists from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are increasingly travelling to Croatia and love luxury hotels and villas, and the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) is set to present Croatia's rich tourist offer at the ATM Arabian Travel Market in Dubai on May the 1st, 2019.

In the scope of the above, HTZ Director Kristjan Staničić met with media and partners such as WEGO, Medical Ozone, AVIAREPS, Jordan's Tourism Organization, Meetin and Think Strawberries.

"Presenting Croatia on this market and cooperation with the UAE has multiple effects for Croatian tourism and for the economy, and the direct air link between Zagreb and Dubai with Emirates has led to an increased demand from business travellers, as well as tourists from East Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and then even Australia,'' he said.

There are also high expectations from the new Fly Dubai line, which will link Dubrovnik and Dubai from June the 2nd to October the 13th.

Citizens of the UAE realised 25.5 thousand overnight stays in Croatia last year, and most of them came to Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split. They are typically demanding guests who love a touch of luxury and are travelling more and more.

In addition to HTZ, there are seven co-exhibitors, TZ Zagreb, TZ Dubrovnik-Neretva County, NP Plitvice Lakes, HUP, Amathus Travel Croatia, Abacus Tours and Jung Sky.

Zagreb will be presented in Dubai as a city break, as well as a health tourism destination.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel and lifestyle pages for much more. If it's just the Croatian capital you're interested in, give Total Zagreb a follow or check out Zagreb in a Page. Find out more about Croatia's blossoming health tourism story, as well as the health system in general, here.


Click here for the original article by Marija Crnjak for Poslovni Dnevnik

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Ivana Trump Undergoes Successful Eye Surgery in Croatia

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 26th of April, 2019, Ivana Trump, President Donald Trump's first wife, has been staying in Zagreb over the past few days, and one of the main reasons for her visit to Croatia is for her to undergo eye surgery that has now been safely and successfully performed at the Zagreb's well known Svjetlost Clinic.

Owing to the intervention of Svjetlost Clinic, the first wife of Donald Trump has permanently resolved her vision problems.

Ivana Trump is an internationally known public fiture who decided to entrust the health of her eyes to Croatian experts from the Svjetlost Clinic, more specifically to prof. dr. sc. Nikica Gabrić, who personally operated on her.

''I was told about the top ophthalmic clinic in Zagreb by friends from New York who had already had their operations here. With them, I noticed that their operations had totally raised their quality of life,'' said Ivana Trump after surgery.

Ivana Trump visited Zagreb's Svjetlost Clinic last year when she arrived in Zagreb to participate as an honorary guest of the Miss Universe Croatia competition. Then, she underwent an examination with Professor Gabrić, who advised her to install Symfony intraocular lenses to solve her vision problems. Back then, she couldn't undergo the surgery due to obligations she had, but that's why she visited Zagreb again to get rid of the need to wear glasses forever.

"The operation was fast, painless, and I can see today without any problems without glasses. I have a completely different and glorious view of the world I'm going to discover again,'' added a satisfied Ivana Trump.

"With the arrival of patients like Ivana Trump, the perception of Croatia is beginning to change as a country that offers guests just the sea and the sun. Such events create the story of Croatia as a desirable destination for health tourism and the country where the most demanding patients can get top medical services. The Svjetlost Clinic crossed over the borders of Croatia long ago and has become a brand known out there in the world, and this can only be achieved if you have modern technology, top-notch experienced specialists, but also a special approach for every patient,'' stated dr. sc. Nikica Gabrić.

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