Health, Medical and SPA Tourism in the Focus of the Business Relations between Germany and Bulgaria

On 5th March 2019 Medical University-Varna participated in two major events for development of health, medical and SPA tourism, which took place at the Ministry of Economy of Germany in Berlin – Round Table on “Opportunities for Cooperation between Bulgaria and Germany in SPA and Wellness Tourism”, and the Forum “Promotion of Bulgaria as a Four-Season Destination for Health and SPA Tourism”. Both events were held within the largest tourism trade fair in Europe – ITB Berlin.

Organizers and initiators of the two events are the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHC Bulgaria), chaired by Dr. Mitko Vasilev, and the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and Spa Tourism (BUBSPA), with a president  Siyka Katsarova. A special guest and active participant in the events was the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to Germany H.E. Elena Shekerletova.

Medical University-Varna was presented by Prof. Todorka Kostadinova – Vice-Rector for International Cooperation. The University received a special invitation not only because it was distinguished with the award of the European SPA Association (ESPA) for innovative training for 2018, but also because it is an active partner of BUBSPA and ESPA, and a business partner of St. St. Constantine and Helena, Albena AD, providing services as a practical training base. The fact that health and medical tourism management teams, as well as more than 860 medical and dental German students, are being trained at the University is also of great importance.

The focus of the round table was the opportunities for cooperation between Bulgaria and Germany in the field of health tourism. It was attended by representatives of the German health funds, the Ministry of Health of Germany and Bulgaria, the Ministry of Tourism in Bulgaria, AHK Bulgaria, BUPSPA and ESPA. The main purpose of the round table was to establish contacts at expert level for concluding contracts with the German healthcare funds for health packages in Bulgarian medical and SPA centres, certified under Ordinance 2 / 29.01.2016.

The participation of MU-Varna in this event was preceded by more extensive discussions during the round table, held in Sofia in February, entitled “Qualification of Tourism Staff – Survey, Training Programmes for Qualification Enhancement”, a part of the programme of the International Tourism Fair “Holiday & Spa Expo 2019”. MU-Varna was presented by a team, including Prof. Todorka Kostadinova, Prof. Dimitrichka Bliznakova, Assoc. Prof. Gergana Nenova, Assoc. Prof. Minko Milev and Assist. Prof. Dr. Nikolay Nedev.

More than 70 representatives of the German and Bulgarian business participated in the German-Bulgarian forum “Promotion of Bulgaria as a Four-Season Destination for Health and SPA Tourism” within the ITB Tourism Fair. Major SPA destinations in Bulgaria were presented in the forum such as St. St. Constantine and Helena, Albena Resorts, Velingrad, Sandanski, etc. The participants got united under the proposal of Ambassador Shekerletova for organizing an expert visit to certain centres that are in complete readiness to enter into contracts with German health funds, and to move on to the next level of negotiations.