The motto of this year's European Health Prevention Day was Health and Travel - New Challenges for Health Tourism. With the support of the City of Wiesbaden, the congress took place for the first time in the Wiesbaden Kurhaus in the historic Christian Zais Hall, which is one of the most beautiful halls in the Rhine-Main area. The welcome speech was given by the Ambassador of the partner country Lithuania, His Excellency Ramunas Misiulis, the President of Quhep e.V., Joachim Lieber and the President of the European Spas Association (ESPA), which is closely associated with Quhep, Thierry Dubois. The interactive discussion format "SPArliament" dealt with the central question for our industry, whether natural local remedies have a future in the age of pandemics. For this purpose, the director of the Institute for Virology at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Prof. Dr. Bodo Plachter first compared the current corona pandemic with significant historical pandemics, in particular with the Spanish flu from 1918 - 1920. It became clear that there were some similarities in the dynamics of the two pandemics as well as in the first protective measures . However, a blueprint for expected future pandemics cannot be derived from the current Corona situation. Dr. Janka Zálešáková (Balneotherma) explained the role of medical spa providers in the post-COVID period. The treatment of post-COVID symptoms will be particularly important. In addition to lung diseases, this also applies to neurological diseases, cardiovascular diseases and diseases of the musculoskeletal system and psychological and psychiatric diseases. Deddo Lehmann, managing director and spa director of Eisenmoorbad Schmiedeberg-Kur-GmbH, described the experiences his clinics have had with the corona pandemic. It was shown that the public's sensitivity to health issues has increased and that the position of rehab clinics is seen as an important support in politics, especially in times of crisis (pandemics). Dr. Sandra Lohmann, specialist in ENT and naturopathic treatments at the "Der Fürstenhof" clinic in Bad Pyrmont gave an overview of what natural local remedies can do in view of the increased demands on complex healing treatments. It became clear that the therapies used in classical medical spa towns ("Kurorte") based on these natural healing resources are experiencing a renaissance because they enable a holistic therapy that is largely free of side effects. Arturas Salda, Chairman of Egles Sanatoriums in Lithuania, explained future opportunities for medical spa and wellness providers after the COVID-19 pandemic from an international perspective. From his point of view, too, there is a future-oriented field of activity due to the broad-based principles of action of natural healing resources designed to sustainably strengthen the organism. He proves this with numerous examples from practice. In a vivid and entertaining lecture, the managing director of Spa Vilnius Hotels, Dr. Rokas Navickas explained why peloides ("mud"), healing waters and climate are "reason enough to travel long distances to other countries".
At the same time, a travel agency workshop was held at the invitation of both Spa Travel (Yuriy Paul) and Fit-Reisen (Claudia Wagner), where around 20 travel agencies from Germany presented the health destinations of Lithuania and Slovenia.
The evening event in Erbach im Rheingau in the historical restaurant "Erbacher Hof" was organized together with the partner country Lithuania. The event was accompanied by two musicians from Lithuania, who presented pieces of music from their homeland on clarinet and oboe.
December 3rd began with a morning meditation conducted by Prasad Buwanekabahu, the owner of the "Villa am Park Hotel" in Bad Orb, which specialises in Ayurveda. The first block of lectures "Marketing in Medical Spas" had to take place via the Internet due to the corona restrictions and was moderated by Dr. Kurt von Storch on behalf of Dr. Maik Fischer, who put together the content of this block and the speakers. Annemarie Rüter, Managing Director of Bad Pyrmont Tourismus GmbH, provided information about the digital transformation in a typical spa town using Bad Pyrmont as an example and showed the challenges that are particularly faced by destination marketing, which on the one hand takes into account all tourism players in a place and on the other hand must always follow the current developments in international online tourism (booking platforms, etc.). Gert Prantner, one of the most renowned and experienced hoteliers and tourism experts and a "veteran" of the international hotel industry, explained from his many years of experience what he sees as the future role of hotels in health resorts. Due to the specialization possibilities, he sees opportunities in particular for those who are able to successfully combine a clearly differentiated offer profile with today's marketing instruments. In the block "Medical Spa and Wellness Strategies in the VUCA World", the moderator and designer of this block of lectures, Tobias Bielenstein, Managing Director of Bielenstein Consulting GmbH, goes into the conditions that health tourism providers have to face in a world that is in is changing rapidly and is difficult to predict ("VUCA-World"). Claudia Wagner, Managing Director of Fit Reisen, explains how tour operators and tourism providers will work together in the future, especially against the background of changed conditions in the post-corona period. Jörg Demuth, board member of "The Organic Spa GmbH", showed in a well-received lecture how a comprehensive switch to sustainable and low-waste products in the wellness area and beyond that in the hotel industry is possible. In the last block of the event was moderated by Prof. Dr. Marcus Herntrei (Deggendorf University of Applied Sciences). He explains how providers of health travel can stage their products as an experience. This is not only about the healing success itself, but also about giving the guest or patient a positive experience, taking nature and joy into account. Gisela Immich, research associate at the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, gave an overview of the many possibilities of using a forest in an innovative way as a health service. Following this, Sebastian Markow, research associate in the field of health tourism at the Technical University of Deggendorf, reported from a project in Germany and Austria on the recording of the potential of the forest for the development of target group-specific offers. In particular, it turned out that forest therapy offers considerable potential for health tourism use for those who can successfully use the individual circumstances for target group-specific product development and marketing.
From the point of view of the organizers (Quality in Health Prevention e.V.), the congress was less attended than at previous events with around 60 participants and an additional 20 travel agency representatives, but in view of the difficult corona-related boundary conditions it was a great success. Joachim Lieber and Kurt von Storch once again expressly thank all the moderators and speakers who made a significant contribution to the success of this congress. Both thanked the representatives of the partner country Lithuania, in particular Lina Nosevic, Arturas Salda and Lithuania Travel, represented by Dovilė Venckutė, who had a significant impact on the congress with their great commitment. Thanks also go to the supporters in the background, Isabel von Storch and Heike Fuhrmann.