Termatalia reinvents itself and brings together the international thermal community in the 1st Congress on Water and Health
Ourense, 09/16/2020.- Termatalia, International Fair for Thermal Tourism, Health and Well-being, has adapted to this new normal marked by the pandemic and has managed to bring together, in a hybrid way between virtual and face-to-face, the international thermal community around the 1st International Congress on Water and Health. At this time, what would be the 20th edition of Termatalia and the fifth edition outside Europe had to be held in the Argentine province of Entre Ríos, but the health crisis has led Termatalia to reinvent itself without losing its convening power among professionals in the sector that have been having the fair as a benchmark in business and thermal training for two decades.
This event, which began this morning at the fairgrounds of Ourense, Expourense, brings together 50 speakers from 10 countries (Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, United States, Italy, Portugal, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay) who are analyzing the current affairs of health tourism inevitably marked by the pandemic caused by COVID-19. This congress is being followed by more than 500 attendees who have registered from 30 countries on 4 continents with special participation from Portugal and Argentina, along with Spain. To this figure must be added those attendees who collectively follow the congress in calls that have been organized by various Argentine undersecretaries of Tourism or different subsidiaries of the Federation of Gastronomic Hotels of the Argentine Republic (FEHGRA).
The opening of the Congress was presented by the director of Termatalia, Emma González, and was carried out, in person, by the Vice President and Minister of Tourism of the Regional Government of Galicia, Alfonso Rueda; the president of the European Association of Cities with Thermal Historical Heritage (E.H.T.T.A.), of the Provincial Council of Ourense "the thermal province" and of the advisory committee of Termatalia, Manuel Baltar; and the deputy mayor of the city of Ourense, Armando Ojea. The presidents of the associations of Spas of Spain (ANBAL), Miguel Mirones, and of Termas de Portugal, Victor Leal, and the honorary general secretary of the European Association of Spas (ESPA), the German Joachim Lieber, intervened virtually. Important representatives of tourism from the two countries with the highest representation in this congress, after Spain, also participated. The president of the Porto e Norte de Portugal Tourism Entity, Luis Pedro Martins, and the executive secretary of the National Institute for Tourism Promotion of the Argentine Republic (INPROTUR), Ricardo Sosa, spoke at this event.
"Water life, well-being, relaxation ... but thermal water is health. This congress will contribute to make visible the great opportunity that thermal baths have in the post-covid era and the advantage that thermal areas have ”. With these words, the president of E.H.T.T.A., Manuel Baltar, opened the congress, who also highlighted "the importance of public-private collaboration to carry out hydrotherapy projects in all areas: services, infrastructures, tourism and health".
The scientific sessions of this first day have paid special attention to the situation experienced by the sector in relation to the pandemic and how hydrotherapy offers us the opportunity to strengthen our immune system. Different speakers have presented real cases and experiences that will deal with the security protocols that are being applied in the sector and round tables focused on the reactivation of the sector, on how to face the future with less uncertainty and how to reduce the economic impact. Related to COVID-19, a round table was held that will analyze the global vision on health tourism in times of COVID-19, a sector for which the global pandemic situation has become an opportunity to recognize Balneology and the importance of prevention in preparing the immune system as part of a healthy lifestyle. This is an advantage for regions (such as Galicia, Portugal or many Latin American countries) that have extensive natural resources such as hot springs, which with the appropriate training, certification and legislation process can represent opportunity for the development of new health destinations or enhancement of existing ones. At this table it was discussed that the growth forecast for health tourism for 2022 is 7.5%, one point more than tourism in general.
This first day of the congress included a session dedicated to medical hydrology that will include the presentation of the 3rd Vademecum of the mineral-medicinal waters of Spain by Dr. Francisco Maraver, director of the Chair of Medical Hydrology at the Complutense University of Madrid and president of the Spanish Society of Medical Hydrology. The mechanisms of action of balneotherapy as a trigger for the immune response were also discussed, a study that was presented by researchers from the University of Extremadura. This session also included the presentation of the latest research in Medical Hydrology carried out by the Termas Centro de Portugal association.
This first day of the Congress will conclude with the celebration of a showcooking organized by the project "A rest in the Paths" in which three Galician chefs will prepare healthy dishes to promote Galicia as a healthy destination at a trem and gastronomic level. These dishes will be paired with wines from the Galician designations of origin D.O. Ribeiro and D.O. Monterrei.
Tomorrow, Thursday, September 17, the second and last day of this congress will be held, which will include the session on tourism, innovation and sustainability in which thermal destinations such as Galicia, Extremadura, Murcia, Termas Centro de Portugal or the Eurocidade Chaves-Verín will be presented. the first European Eurocity to encompass two countries united around thermal water. Also noteworthy is the panel on hot springs in Argentina, a world thermal powerhouse, in which representatives from prominent hot springs provinces such as Entre Ríos, Santiago del Estero, Catamarca, Chaco, Jujuy, La Rioja, Misiones, Neuquén and Salta will participate. It will be moderated by the executive secretary of INPROTUR, Ricardo Sosa.
This Congress has the support of the Provincial Council of Ourense and the Department of Tourism and Thermalism of the City of Ourense, entities that have been joined by other collaborators such as the Chair of Medical Hydrology, the University of Santiago de Compostela, Tourism of Extremadura, Costa Cálida-Region of Murcia, the National Institute for Tourism Promotion of the Argentine Republic (INPROTUR) or the project “Un descanso en los caminos”.