- The 2nd International Congress on Water and Health of Termatalia, which is held jointly with the 4th International Symposium on Thermalism and Quality of Life, opened its doors this morning in Expourense with the claim of the spa as a health center
- The 1st Vice President of the Xunta de Galicia, Alfonso Rueda, presided over the opening ceremony, highlighting the ability of spas to diversify and seasonally adjust the tourist offer, promote domestic tourism and generate wealth in the municipalities where the spas are located.
The 2nd International Congress on Water and Health of Termatalia opened its doors this morning in Expourense, being held jointly with the 4th International Symposium on Thermalism and Quality of Life organized at Water Campus of the University of Vigo. From today until next Friday afternoon, 72 experts from 12 countries (Germany, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Thailand and Uruguay) will analyze the challenges of thermalism in the post -COVID both at a medical and tourist level. These events can be followed in person from the fairgrounds or virtually from anywhere in the world. Specifically, attendees from 29 countries are connecting to this congress.
MEDICAL HYDROLOGY SESSION
The first day of this congress/symposium was focused on claiming the benefits of balneotherapy in the rehabilitation of Post CoVid-19 sequelae due to its ability to strengthen the immune system and also on remembering that spas are health centers that could complement and help to the National Health System. These were the two guiding threads of this first day, which was coordinated by the Chair of Medical Hydrology at the University of Santiago de Compostela and by its director, Dr. Juan Gestal, who has become the reference professional in Galicia for time to talk about COVID-19. The president of the Spanish Society of Medical Hydrology, Dr. Francisco Maraver, and the medical directors of different spas in Spain such as Caldaria, Mondariz, Cuntis, Aguas Santas or Archena in Murcia also participated.
Also participating, among other speakers, were several doctors from the Ourense University Hospital Complex, the professor of Medical Hydrology, Dr. Rosa Failde, and the director of the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality, Fernando Fraile, who presented the ISO/PAS 5643 Standard: Requirements and guidelines for reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in tourism companies.
The speakers at this conference insisted on the role that spas can play in the recovery of both those who have suffered from COVID-19 and those who have not, since the pandemic and confinement affected the entire world. As the medical director of the Mondariz Spa, Dr.Laura Gómez Sanmiguel said “after confinement, many people have felt that they needed to move again, make up for lost time, return to their good healthy habits. Spas are perfect for that.”
During the inaugural conference, Dr. Francisco Maraver, president of the Spanish Society of Medical Hydrology, made it clear that balneotherapy can contribute to the neuromuscular and respiratory rehabilitation of the sequelae of those who have suffered COVID-19 but also in “functional reeducation of the consequences of confinement, the so-called pre-fragility”.
For her part, the Professor of Medical Hydrology, Dr. Rosa Miejide highlighted the capacity of thermal centers in treating the respiratory sequelae of COVID-19 and defended the medical dimension of spas and their extensive tradition in caring for respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis or asthma, as well as and otorhinolaryngology, such as rhinitis, sinusitis and the prevention of hearing loss in childhood otitis, among other diseases. Although he indicated that the temporary closure of the thermal facilities in the pandemic made it impossible to compare the effectiveness of its waters in the persistent ailments of COVID-19, he stressed that “the European medical community is recommending spas as a very comfortable out-of-hospital setting for rehabilitation and recovery from pulmonary sequelae, and not only that, but from all those derived from the causative virus, SARS-CoV-2”.
During this Conference on Medical Hydrology held within the framework of Termatalia there was also a special memory for Dr. José Carro Otero, who died last April and who was president of the Galician Academy of Medicine and organizer of this conference for several editions.
This morning the official opening ceremony of the 2nd International Congress on Water and Health of Termatalia and the 4th International Symposium on Thermalism and Quality of Life organized at Campus Auga of the University of Vigo was also held. It was attended by representatives of the different institutions that support Termatalia and work for the development of thermalism in Ourense (at local and provincial level) and Galicia in general. All of them highlighted the ability of hydrotherapy to diversify and deseasonalize the tourist offer, promote internal tourism and generate wealth in the municipalities where the thermal establishments are located, which are usually in rural environments.
This act was directed by the director of Termatalia and managing director of Expourense, Rogelio Martínez, and the 1st Vice President and Minister of the Presidency, Xustiza and Tourism of the Xunta de Galicia, Alfonso Rueda, participated in it; the President of the Provincial Council of Ourense and president of the European Association of Historic Cities with Thermal Heritage (EHTTA), Manuel Baltar; the Magnificent Rector of the University of Vigo, Manuel Reigosa; the Concelleira de Turismo e Termalismo do Concello de Ourense, Flora Moure; the Territorial Delegate of the Xunta de Galicia in Ourense and president of the executive committee of Expourense, Gabriel Alén; the Executive Secretary of the Institute for Tourism Promotion of Argentina – INPROTUR, Ricardo Sosa; the Director of the Chair of Medical Hydrology at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Juan Gestal; the Mayor of the thermal municipality of Santa Rosa del Cabal in Colombia, Rodrigo Toro, and the Director of the European Association Quality in Health Prevention. Kurt Von Storch.
During his speech, the 1st Vice President of the Government of Galicia recalled that this community leads the offer in Spain and commented on its growth possibilities to respond to the boom in demand for sustainable experiences by tourists after covid. Alfonso Rueda added that thermalism fits into the commitment to a safe, quality and sustainable tourism model. Galicia is positioned as the leader in the State as a whole in terms of the Minas Gerais-medicinal offer, and it is also the community with the highest number of quality distinctions in thermal establishments, since of the 36 establishments of this type in Spain with Q of Tourist Quality, 8 belong to the Galician community. In addition, of the 21 spas in Galicia, almost 70% are four or five stars, which proves their quality.
Along the same lines was the intervention of the executive secretary of INPROTUR, Ricardo Sosa, who spoke of the fact that this country has positioned itself as one of the most outstanding thermal destinations in America with 21 thermal provinces (out of a total of 23).
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
Tomorrow, Thursday, will be the day dedicated to Thermal Heritage in the morning session and to Tourism and Wellness in the afternoon. New strategies for tourism promotion of thermal and wellness destinations will be analyzed. The change in the needs and preferences of the recent post-COVID consumer offers new challenges to face. This new tourist is now going to request experiences with high added value that promote a healthy lifestyle that combines leisure and rest, but without forgetting prevention and rehabilitation. You will also look for places that are not very crowded and quiet in contact with nature and with a good gastronomic offer, and where thermalism has its great asset.
Tomorrow also starts the second edition of the International Workshop on Health and Wellness Tourism, which will also be held in a hybrid format. It is a Tourist Recruitment Exchange whose objective is to act as a meeting point between the international supply and demand of the health tourism product and which will put participating companies in direct contact with tour operators from 6 countries (Spain, Argentina, Germany, Peru, Colombia and Brazil) thus covering both the European and Latin American markets. Its collaborating destinations will hold business meetings with 24 travel wholesalers specializing in the marketing of health and wellness tourism.
The tour operators participating in the workshop will meet mainly with Galician companies that sell quality products based on health and well-being, such as spas, thalassotherapy centers or hotels, and also with specialized guides, wineries, houses and rural tourism experiences. , in addition to receptive travel agencies. Companies from the Spanish regions of Extremadura and Murcia will also participate, since this action has the collaboration of Argentina through collaboration with INPROTUR (National Institute for Tourism Promotion). All these destinations have a wide range of health tourism .
Also related to the business in the thermal sector, a new edition will be held, the 18th International Water Tasting, which has become an international benchmark for mineral water bottling brands and which the sector demanded after the last edition held in 2019.