The Zagreb County Tourist Board has launched activities that include quality management in health tourism.
Specifically, it is about establishment Innovation cluster for health tourism which will establish the basis for integrated management of health tourism with the aim of creating a recognizable tourist destination product that will be the main instrument for encouraging the competitiveness of tourism in Zagreb County. Health tourism is one of the key factors in attracting Western European guests, and Zagreb County plays a key role here due to the proximity of the metropolis and the existing capacities.
Health tourism is based on more than 250 health care institutions registered in the directory of health care institutions
The most represented health activity in the Zagreb County is dentistry and dental medicine with more than 100 dental and dental offices. In addition, surgeries of general medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, physical medicine, home care medicine, general surgery, urology, diagnostics, radiology, ophthalmology, speech therapy and medical-biotechnical laboratories and dental laboratories are available.
There are also numerous polyclinics and special hospitals in this county, among which the Polyclinic Radiochirurgia and the Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation Naftalan stand out.. Polyclinic Radiochirurgia in Sveta Nedelja is a private special hospital that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer with the help of radiotherapy and radiosurgery, with a professional team composed of top Croatian and international experts with decades of experience in oncology.
Within health tourism, but also wellness tourism, it is important in this area and Naftalan Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation from Ivanić-Grad. This special hospital deals with the treatment of inflammatory rheumatic diseases (rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis), diseases of the joints and spine, and skin diseases (psoriasis and neurodermatitis). In addition to the spa program, the Special Hospital provides spa and wellness services. An additional advantage of this facility are cosmetic preparations: oil, creams and naphthalene-based shampoo produced by the subsidiary Ivalan Terme. The comparative advantage of the hospital is the use of salt thermal water and naphthalene, which has long been known as a natural healing ally in maintaining health and preventing disease, and the first data on the healing properties of naphthalene were recorded by world famous traveler Marco Polo in the 13th century.
These institutions are the bearers of health tourism, which relies on a number of additional facilities that allow Zagreb County to impose and develop a competitive and recognizable tourist product.
"Reasons that are imposed on us as key social challenges for the development of health tourism are rising costs of the EU health system, prevention and new forms of treatment or personalized medicine, demographic changes through constant aging, the need for a healthier lifestyle, urbanization because it is known that 70% residents live in urban areas, but also technological changes. Specifically non-invasive treatments, beauty treatments, e-Health, m-Health like Mobile Health ” points out the director of the Zagreb County Tourist Board Ivana Alilović adding that the goals of the Innovation Cluster for Health Tourism are smart specialization of Zagreb County and the development of tourist destinations for health tourism, improving the value chain of health tourism through building and improving the quality of research, health and tourism infrastructure, digitization and application of new technologies (IoT, Big Data, AI , robotics, e-Health, m-Health), but also the development of innovative products and smart skills and the promotion of Zagreb County as a Hub of health tourism.
"With a proactive approach and foreign direct investment, encouraging the model of Public Private Partnership and multi-sectoral connections, we will strengthen the position of our county in this branch of tourism. The goal is to strengthen resilience to health crises like the one we experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, to prepare projects for EU funds in the period up to 2027, and to internationalize. ” emphasizes Alilović.
This is followed by mapping and development of strategic frameworks and defining sources of funding
The first steps in the process of establishing an Innovation Cluster for Health Tourism are mapping, developing a strategic framework, defining the legal structure and sources of funding, establishing a cluster and preparing and implementing cluster initiatives through joint projects.
“Following this project cooperation is important to create a strategic tool for positioning Zagreb County as one of the leading domestic and international tourist health destinations that will be recognized for its innovative approach to tourism development with the aim of creating an authentic tourism product based on multisectoral connections and tourism chain construction. values ”, concludes Ivana Alilović.
In this direction, Zagreb County could very quickly become a recognizable destination for health tourism, which is growing the fastest in the European Union and is considered a high-income industry that then vertically binds and strengthens many other segments important for accelerated development of the region.