Academic journal article UTMS Journal of Economics

Health Tourism and "Smart Specialisation"

Academic journal article UTMS Journal of Economics

Health Tourism and "Smart Specialisation"

Article excerpt


The direction that will lead to the achievement of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and development is mapped out in the Europe 2020 strategy. The purpose of this paper is to confirm the hypothesis that health tourism, in all its complexity, interdiciplinarity and systematic approach to problems, is an ideal model of "smart specialisation", not only of tourist regions, but the entire destination at the national level. National competitiveness in this paper can be improved by increasing innovation capacity by focusing on health tourism and health resources in general, through which also on the delivery of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy

The main research results refer to the fact that the paper provides a general insight that health tourism can be viewed through the elements of the tourist offer that reflect the adequate combination of wellness and spa services with medical tourism services.

In addition to this introduction and conclusion, the paper is divided into three chapters. The first chapter covers the basic literature, conceptual definitions and hypothesis of the paper. It substantially includes theoretical foundations of health tourism and "smart specialisation", methodology, and the set hypothesis. The second chapter briefly explains the scientific methodology used, and the third chapter delivers the results of the discussions related to the relationship between health tourism and "smart specialisation" through the analysis of the relationship between flagship initiatives supported by the EU growth strategy Europe 2020.


Presently, orientation on health tourism is evident in almost all touristically developed countries and regions, which is covered by eminent international (Clift and Page 1996; Wang and al. 2000; Pilzer 2002, 2007; Horx 2001; Conell 2006, 2013; Smith and Puczkó 2009; Hall 2011) and national experts (Alfier 1994; Andrijsevic and Bartoluci 2004; Hitrec 1998; Kusen 2006; Pancic-Kombol 2000; Rozanic 2000; Vukonic 2010 and others). According to them, the entire tourism phenomenon, in accordance with its functions in physical and psychological recuperation of the body, can be categorised, in a broader sense, in some of the shapes and forms of health tourism. In this context and in everyday tourist practice, health tourism as a selective form of tourism is expanding; it is located in a wide range of services, from recreational aspects of wellness tourism to hospital tourism organised by catering firms i.e. health facilities providing health tourism services.

There are various definitions that are most commonly used in domestic and foreign literature, and it is useful to list some of them here. Firstly, we will keep within limits of definitions in the field of medical tourism, followed by wellness tourism and spa industry and, finally, health tourism.

Comprehensive analytical studies of medical and wellness tourism appear in the books "Health and Wellness Tourism" (Smith and Puczkó 2009), and in "Handbook on Medical Tourism and Patient Mobility" (Lunt, Horsfall and Hanefeld 2015), in which the authors set the definition of medical tourism highlighting two types of medical treatments undergone by tourists: surgical treatment (e.g. surgeries), or therapeutic treatments (e.g. participation in a medical treatment). Medical tourism can be defined as a trip to nearby destinations to undergo medical treatments (Hopkins et al. 2010) such as surgeries or other specialist interventions. Medical tourism [...] can have two main forms: surgical and therapeutic. There is a clear difference between them. Surgical treatment surely includes specific actions, while therapy is an element in the treatment process" (Smith and Puczko 2014). In general, medical tourism can be categorised into three groups, depending on where the tourists go to get medical services (Medical Tourism - Guide 2015)

Medical tourism is often primarily associated with "outbound" trips, i. …

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