The 26th European Spas Congress brought together all segments of the spa business
The 26th Congress of the European Spas Association, which took place between 21 and 23 September in the Slovakian spa town of Pieštany, was a milestone for the spa industry.
Following the corona crisis, European natural health spas play an integral role in post-covid rehabilitation and contribute to improved health and prevention of diseases. The event provided insight into the industry and its practices. Leading experts participated in an eventful programme that included 18 expert lectures, two roundtables, three keynotes and presentations of good case practices. The ESPA Congress was a testament to the importance of the European Spas Association for knowledge exchange and fostering expertise. The ESPA Congress was attendees by 120 participants from twenty European countries and five overseas countries representatives, coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Slovak and Czech Republic’s Spa Association. It intertwined the ESPA Congress and SPA-CE Spa & Wellness Workshop for the second time.
The event marked the first in-person ESPA Congress with a strong presence of media and hosted buyers after the halt caused by the corona crisis. The first day started with a guided visit to the Esplanade Ensana Health Spa Hotel, one of the largest European medical spa centre of its kind.
The central part of the Congress kicked off with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Slovak and Czech Republic’s Spa Association. President of the European Spas Association Thierry Dubois opened the congress with congratulations to Slovakia and the Czech Republic for developing an efficient and quality medical spa therapy for a certain number of chronic diseases, knowing how to develop greatly the prevention and therapeutic education. Numerous esteemed guests joined the event, including the Deputy Minister of Health of the Czech Republic and the Minister of Transport and Construction of Slovakia. The Congress also hosted a workshop for mayors of European Spas member countries, like Germany, The Netherlands, Iceland and also from Slovakian and Czech spa destinations. European Spas Team is pleased to support the Ukrainian colleagues even in difficult times and Mr. Thierry Dubois presented the seal of EuropeSpa quality to Derenivska Health Resort from Western Ukraine at the opening ceremony.
The expert part of the programme focused on two resounding topics: Perspectives of medical spa programs in the European health care systems (medical results from European Spa members) and Children’s health, prevention and aftercare by cancer, robotics in the rehabilitation, Long-Covid treatments and spa medicine – new offers for health-oriented travelers and a new generation of patients. The keynote speaker F. Linser talked about Transformation in health tourism offers, and L. Powell explained how to break through perceptions and stereotypes – North American market view and perceptions. The latter section showed the importance of protecting our well-being and why Balneotherapy plays an integral role in preserving good health. The last part of the programme was an exchange of knowledge and exeriences with the hosted buyers from the perspectives of travel agencies.
Finally, the event offered an array of good practice cases, including an eye-opening presentation by the President of ESPA, Thierry Dubois, who summarised the purpose of the ESPA Congress in his lecture titled Growing Demand for Mental Health.
The Slovakian hosts enchanted attendees with a rich cultural programme that ensured guests could network while indulging in superb local cuisine from Trnava region. One of the highlights was the Gala Event, the European Spas Innovation award ceremony in the iconic Grand Restaurant of the five-star Thermia Palace. You can find out more about the recipients at https://europeanspas-pilot22.eu/espa-innovation-award/
Within the framework of the event, the annual SPA-CE Experience also took place. SPA-CE, a boutique Spa & Wellness Workshop, has become an esteemed business platform for conducting personal meetings among European thermal spa resorts and tourist agencies specialising in spa, health and travel. The workshop was attended by 16 providers from 7 countries who convened with 19 hosted buyers, representing agencies from 9 countries. Nearly 200 meetings took place during the event. Participants of SPA-CE visited two Slovakian health and spa resorts, Bojnice Spa and Trenčianske Teplice, where they got the first-hand information about the spa offers.
The next edition of ESPA Congress will take place in the renowned Czech health and spa destination Karlovy Vary from 4 to 6 October 2023.
This is what key partners and organisers said about the 26th ESPA Congress
“Ensana became a member of the European Spa Association’s community as we share the same values and goals. ESPA and the colleagues representing the organization, with their wide knowledge about the sector and the connections to all parties within the industry and the EU regulatory level are crucial to developing our brand further. We had the opportunity to share our thoughts about the future of the industry, and also met potential new partners. ESPA’s Innovation Award initiative is an important platform to show and appreciate the efforts of our medical teams, who are continuously seeking to improve our health-related service across the whole brand, in order to introduce programmes with improved efficacy and measurably better results. Our main goal is to broaden the cooperation with the European Spa Association and strengthen the potential synergies between us and other partners joining the organization.”
Frank Halmos, CEO, Ensana Hotels
“Spas are among the most attractive tourism products in Slovakia. Therefore, it seems more than relevant that Slovakia was chosen to host the 26th Congress of ESPA in the Spa of Piešťany.
The ESPA Congress ranks among the top events dedicated to the topic of medical spas. The efficiency of this unique platform that mediates the connection of experience and knowledge of spa and tourism experts was enhanced by the SPA-CE Experience. This accompanying B2B event including a workshop and a fam trip was an excellent opportunity for personal business contacts with representatives of spas, spa and wellness hotels from Central Europe and buyers from the priority target markets.
SLOVAKIA TRAVEL – the national organisation for the support of tourism in Slovakia, as the main partner of the event showed the hospitality of the destination, the quality of the services, the variety of the programmes and the attractiveness of the Slovak spas. As the spa industry is a priority topic for the development of tourism in Slovakia, the cooperation between Slovakia and ESPA continues.”
Lucia Matvija, Head of the Tourism Department, SLOVAKIA TRAVEL