OMTH International Congress - Spa Business In The 3rd Millennium - 21st - 22nd October 2016 Levico Terme
The Congress has widely debated current topics and proposals for a modern spa business at the beginning of the 3rd millennium, aiming to outline and promote a “model of thermalism” looking at its history, its present situations and its future.
The well-drafted and accurate reports have identified the perspectives of the future spa offer, with reference to the most recent innovations in architecture and technology and to new management methods featuring the most advanced commercial and marketing techniques.
Once again it has been confirmed that spas and research are an inseparable combination. Thermal therapies are soundly based in science, they are studied as a medicine and they are assessed in terms of their composition, biological action, application in clinical practice and therapeutic effects.
The aspect of therapeutic efficacy, closely linked to hydrological culture and scientific research, is essential for the originality and the perspectives of thermalism in the 21st century.
Europe has been identified as a significant model to follow. In addition, the current application of the EU legislation n°2011/24 regarding the right of European citizens to be able to choose any country within the EU for healthcare has been assessed.
The situation emerging from the analysis is not satisfactory, considering that only 22 Member States out of 27 have answered the question (asked upon request of OMTh) of the Italian National Contact Point (NCP) at the Ministry of Health about whether or not thermal therapies are included in the services provided by the National Health Services to the EU citizens.
Only 8 out of 22 countries surveyed have responded positively, namely Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary. The remaining 14 EU States have given a negative answer.
The reports presented during the congress have also illustrated the experiences of cross-border thermalism in Germany and in the European Region Tyrol-South Tyrol-Trentino, between Austria and Italy.
Other main debate topics included the EU Intervention Programs for the spa industry and the methods of drawing up a project proposal.
Subsequently the international experiences in Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, Romania and Latin America have been highlighted.
The Japanese multinational MTG has illustrated innovative manufacturing techniques for cosmetic products using thermal water.
The winners of the International award for thermal research ‘Marcial Campos’ - an event highlighting the crucial importance of the scientific dimension - have been announced by SITh President Andres Campos, after a brief introduction. The winners are Angela Vela Anero, Elena F.Burguera, Francisco J. Blanco, Rosa Meijide Failda – from La Coruña University – Galicia (Spain). They were awarded for their research about the “Effects Of Hydrogen Sulfide In Osteoarthritis Pathologies”.
The lectio magistralis was given by Angela Anero.
The congress was attended by the EHTTA (European Historical Thermal Town Association) delegation, with its President, Giuseppe Bellandi and the President of its Scientific Committee, Paul Simons. A delegation of Ukraine - the Ambassador of Ukraine in Italy, Yevgeny Perelygin and the Head of the commercial office at the embassy of Ukraine in Rome, Kapustin - joined the meeting, as well, together with ESPA (European Spa Association) Vice-President, Dr. Janika Zalesakova, who is also President of the Slovak Spa Association.
The Congress has outlined and approved a specific “thermalism model”, with following features and recommendations:
1) Due to its scientific and therapeutic value, thermalism has to be fully included in the services available to all citizens provided by national healthcare systems.
2) Introduction of special spa services schemes for the most disadvantaged and most vulnerable groups.
3) Importance of scientific research, statistical-epidemiological surveillance and health education.
It is worth remembering the effective initiatives for research funding implemented in France, as the setting up of AFRETh (French Association for Thermal Research) and in Italy, as well, where FORST, (Fondazione Federterme) has been created. Both institutions are directly funded by their national thermal associations.
4) Bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in medical hydrology.
5) Introduction of quality standards and organisational criteria accounting for the new (spa business) situation.
6) Qualification of the areas where hot springs and spa are mainly located.
7) Introduction of a Spa Quality Seal
8) Promotion of the spa business
For an effective implementation of EU Directive 24/2011 it is essential that in all EU Member States thermal therapies are included among the services available to all citizens provided by the national healthcare systems.
In the countries where this important goal has not yet been met, we shall make every effort to achieve it involving the national spa industry associations and the medical-scientific associations, as well.
On the basis of reports about the growth and the development of the spa business worldwide, that have been delivered by acknowledged experts in their fields, the congress has defined strategic lines of actions to drive the further growth of the spa business and to globally promote its ‘excellence”. We hope that the European spa business model - backed by its rich tradition and its originality approach - will extend from Europe all over the world.
In this International convention, OMTh has committed itself to achieving this goal that is closely linked to its tradition and its history.