Health tourism or medical tourism is one of the new products for travellers that the industry has on sight. As well as investments. Many hotel chains, mainly the ones that count with hotels located in the centre of Madrid and accommodations in Barcelona for long stays close to the main hospitals and districts close to health resort, have decided to make the most of this motivation which, after the last european directives regarding to health measures, has opened a new path for the hospitality industry.
The hotels in the centre of Madrid have been welcoming tourists for years travelling to the capital to make the most of a few relaxing days and receive health or beauty treatments in one of the most prestigious clinics in the country. Cosmetic surgery, medical check-ups or second opinions, participation in patients conferences… The motivations for health tourism are increasingly varied.
Nevertheless, it is very important not to confuse it with active or healthy tourism, which have been one the main poles of attraction for travellers in Spain. Healthy tourism is based on all the packages of sports activities, gastronomy and spa escapes attracting all types of travellers. Medical tourism, on the other side, hides a clear sanitary motivation and the traveller, in this case, organizes the whole trip around a medical appointment or concrete health treatment.
Palma, a privileged sanitary destination
With some of the best plastic surgeries and fertility clinics of the country, Palma has been at the top of the Spanish sanitary destinations for years. Many hotels in the centre of Palma have been specializing in this segment, offering special packages for accommodation near to clinics such as Rotger, Juaneda, IBI or Palma Planas.
It allows them to break up with the excessive seasonality of tourist activity of the capital of the Balearic Islands, which tends to concentrate its greatest amount of visitors during summer months, as the major part of the travellers related to health tourism prefer winter or spring seasons to get treated. The decrease in activity of the clinics and specialists during summer months could also explain this trend.
Barcelona and Madrid
Even if Palma is a special case being a major holiday destination as well as an important destination in the european medical tourism map, Madrid and Barcelona are still the top ranking cities in health tourism.They have the most renowned public care centres in Spain, some of the cutting-edge research centres and clinics of all types, capable to attend any health condition.
“Health travellers” usually plan their stay in one of the hotels in the centre of Madrid and Barcelona, to be as close as possible to the hospital or clinic where they are getting treated, but also because it allows them to be near museums, recreation and leisure areas and all means of public transports: patients and the people they travel with agree that both medical and recreational motivations matter when planning their stay.
No clear numbers
Talking about health tourism was still taboo a few years back, being seen as a way to take advantage of Spanish public health service in order to access unauthorized medical treatments in their home country or at a prohibitively high price. But, with the change in european politics, the Spanish government started to see it as a competitive asset and as a new niche for the touristic sector, most important driver of economic growth.
For now, according to various studies and reports coming from the administration, there are no concrete numbers to measure the extent of health tourism over the global tourism sector and what it could represent in the future of hospitality industry in Spain (and its complementary offer).