Health Tourism and Environment

Developed Encounters


Location: Torre Madariaga (Busturia)

Date: 15,16,17 December 2014

In February 2009 was held the First Meeting on Health, Environment and Tourism, thanks to the suport of the Diputación Foral of Bizkaia. It was a conference that allowed national and international experts, and entrepreneurs from the Urdaibai area, to share knowledge, experiences, and create contact and support networks. The year 2011, precisely in times of crisis, we repeat these meetings seeking to help the physical and mental health of people in their work, show instances of support to the health of health workers and share innovative initiatives that create employment in the field Of tourism

  • At that time they sought not only reflection and learning but also the generation of jobs through tourism and health. To this end, presentations, debates, workshops and meeting spaces between speakers and assistants were organized.
  • It can be seen that in the last few years there is a significant development of health tourism, and especially medical tourism throughout and across the world. The Ministry of Industry has promoted a Cluster of Health and Tourism, presented at the beginning of this year 2014, in Alhóndiga de Bilbao, supported by the Department of Health of the Basque Government. It is in this context that we are preparing to organize the third encounters of Health, Tourism and Environment, following the guidelines of what was established in the first conference 5 years ago


  • Some of the conclusions of those first days were:
  • 1) Plans for the development of regional tourism must also take into account the promotion and prevention of health problems as an added value. These plans must address the need to promote non-seasonal tourism with an integrated health promotion program.
  • 2) Regional tourism plans will be more consistent if they consider local natural resources, with positive impacts on health. Therefore, natural assets such as thermal baths, good places for sport and physical exercise for all ages, become potential engine attractive for tourists and visitors. It is necessary to plan activities with health programs focused on each season of the year

3) The local health system with a high level of efficiency and quality should be an advantage for the visitors of the region.  In this situation to plan the offer of a quality hospitality, attractive, supposes a big touristic potential.

That is why these third meetings were focused in the following three aspects:

A) Local natural resources, with positive impacts on health.

Into the tourism that wellness looks for, requested mostly by citizens from Germany, United Kingdom, France or Russia, we have many things to offer in Bizkaia.  But  there is still many work to do to promote a culture of touristic offer, between professionals as well as citizens that must friendly receive these visitants, as traditionally in our country.

B) Regional planning of tourism and health promotion.

In the first meetings, the Director of Public Health of Italian region of Veneto, Paolo Scoto, talked to us about the Public Health organization in it´s region, that guaranteed the security of tourists.  He also talked about it´s region the mayor of Boras city in Sweden.

In this occasion, in the third meetings we wanted to go further in learning and dissemination possibilities that tourism and visitors can favour in this working line.  In this sense we described model experiences of our environment.

C) Visitors of Basque Health System and hospitality.

What is called medical Tourism has actually no positive connotations.  Nevertheless the European Commission guideline indicate the possibilities and also the convenience of promoting it. In this sense it is important to know the cross-border insurance regulation in European Union, as well as sector marketing and demand possibilities.

The other side of the coin is presented by the activities of interventions and medical care developed with patients of poor countries.  Nevertheless, although this activity is positively esteemed by most of the population,  it is still an activity related with medical tourism, object of travels, visits, residence and common activities. It is important to study and consider which common aspect present for it´s appropriate planning and analysis of finance and insurance requirements.  We live in a globalized world that needs new strategies.  The sector of health tourism is a good example of it.