The geography of health tourism
Medical travel has a long history. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans used healing springs and places with a favorable climate in order to improve their health. Not only sick people came to the resorts, but also healthy people who wanted to relax and had enough money for that. In Greece, Epidaurus and Kos were famous, and in Rome, the secular seaside resort of Bailly was famous.
Times have changed, but the motivation of travel remained the same. The healing properties of natural factors, as before, attract patients to resort areas. The flow of tourists with medical purposes is not as numerous as the mass of people who want to relax and have fun, but they are growing rapidly, their geography is expanding.
Features health and medical tourism. Therapeutic tourism has a number of distinctive features. Firstly, the stay at the resort, regardless of the type of the latter and the disease, should be long, at least three weeks. Only in this case the desired health effect is achieved. Secondly, treatment at resorts is expensive. Although relatively cheap tours have recently been developed, this type of tourism is intended mainly for wealthy clients, who increasingly focus not on a standard set of medical services, but on an individual treatment program. Another feature is that people in the older age group go to the resorts when chronic diseases or a weakening body become more acute and cannot cope with everyday stresses at work and in everyday life. Accordingly, these tourists do between resorts specializing in the treatment of a particular disease, and resorts of mixed type, which have a tonic effect on the body and contribute to the restoration of strength.
Recently, the market of medical and health tourism is undergoing changes. Traditional sanatorium resorts cease to be a place of treatment and recreation for the elderly will be established by multifunctional health centers, designed for a wide range of consumers.
Modern transformation of resort centers due to two circumstances. First of all, the changing nature of the demand for medical and recreational services. In a fashion is a healthy lifestyle, and the number of people around the world who are in good physical shape and in need of restorative anti-stress programs is growing. These are mostly middle-aged people who prefer active rest and often faceted in time. According to many experts, consumers of the type will be the main clients of sanatorium resorts and a guarantee of the prosperity of medical and health tourism in the XXI century.
The second reason for the reorientation of resorts is that their traditional support, including financial support, from the side of municipalities and the state is declining. Health resorts are forced to diversify their product in order to enter new segments of the consumer market and attract additional customers.
While maintaining the therapeutic function, the resorts make a more varied program of patient stay, hold cultural and sports events. They offer a wide range of wellness and restoring services. Recently, thalassotherapy in the seaside hotels has been very popular; the Anti-Cellulite and Phyto-Beauty-Rejuvenation programs are also in high demand. Duration of treatment and rehabilitation courses becomes more flexible.
The International Congress on Medical Health Tourism, held in 1999 in Spain, noted the importance of developing this type of tourism for modern society and in this regard emphasized the need for a large-scale study of the rest and treatment market, the development and implementation of resort service standards.
The main types of resorts. There are three main types of resorts: balneological, mud and climatic. At the spa resort, natural mineral waters are used as the main therapeutic factor. They are recommended for external (bath) and internal (drinking, inhalation, etc.) consumption. Mineral waters help to heal from numerous ailments. Among patients coming to spa resorts, people with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular and nervous systems, the musculoskeletal system, etc. predominate. Medical studies carried out confirm the effectiveness of treatment of a number of diseases in spa resorts. It gives results comparable to the effects of conventional drugs, but it eliminates the side effects that are unavoidable when taking drugs, prolongs the period of remission, reduces the likelihood of subsequent exacerbations and their intensity.
Another type of resort – mud – is tied to the deposits of therapeutic mud (peloids). Mud cure is indicated mainly in the pathology of the joints, the nervous system of traumatic origin, as well as gynecological and some other diseases. Thanks to modern methods and advanced technologies.