Health tourism, as a type of ecological tourism, is a kind of spa treatment and considers the organization of health improvement of the population from the point of view of travel technology. This is achieved through the formation of a tourist product, which is based on a medical or health-improving technology that improves the quality of life by fully satisfying the need for rest, recovery and treatment using various components of the natural complex (landscape, comfortable climate, healthy regime, change of environment, etc.) and - such methods of influence on the human body as balneo-, peloid-, landscape-, thalasso- and climatotherapy.
Health tourism has a number of distinctive features. First, the stay at the resort, regardless of the type of the latter and the disease, must be long, at least three weeks. Only in this case is the desired healing effect achieved. Secondly, treatment in resorts is expensive. Although relatively cheap tours have recently begun to be developed, this type of tourism is designed mainly for wealthy clients who are increasingly focusing not on a standard set of medical services, but on an individual treatment program. Another feature is that people of the older age group go to resorts when chronic illnesses worsen or a weakening body is unable to cope with everyday stress at work and at home. Accordingly, these tourists make between the resorts that specialize in the treatment of a specific disease, and the mixed-type resorts, which have a general strengthening effect on the body and promote recovery.
History of health tourism development
Healing travel has a long history. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans used healing springs and places with a favorable climate in order to improve their health. The resorts were visited not only by the sick, but also by healthy people who wanted to rest and had sufficient funds for this. In Greece, Epidaurus and Kos were famous, and in Rome, the secular seaside resort of Baia was famous.
Times have changed, but the motivation for travel has remained the same. The healing properties of natural factors, as before, attract patients to resort areas. The flows of tourists with medical purposes are not yet as numerous as the mass of those who want to relax and have fun, but they are growing rapidly, their geography is expanding.
Back in the 18th century, Peter I, returning after treatment at foreign resorts, ordered the court doctors "to look in our state for spring waters that can be used for various diseases."
The development of the resort business in Russia was largely facilitated by the activities of the Russian Balneological Society in the Caucasian Mineral Waters, founded in 1863 by the famous doctor S. Smirnov. F. Batalin, who summed up the previous study of mineral springs and offered a comprehensive description of their condition and development prospects. In the second half of the 19th century, the therapeutic and climatic areas in Siberia - Yamarovka and Darasun - were examined. Gradually, the geography of the study of mineral waters expands and passes through the Urals to Siberia. In 1868, explorer Afanasy Bushuev discovered the mineral springs of the Sea of Okhotsk. Simultaneously with the healing properties of mineral waters and mud, a favorable effect of the climate on patients on the southern coast of Crimea was discovered. The healing properties of koumiss were also revealed. The network of health resorts using natural healing resources has gradually expanded. But scientific work on the study of natural healing factors was carried out mainly by the efforts of enthusiasts (F. Gaaz, F. Batalin, A. Nelyubin, etc.).
The specifics of health tourism
The contingent of vacationers at the resorts is specific. There is a very high proportion of elderly people and people who are physically weak and sick. Therefore, most resorts are characterized by increased comfort. Treatment involves the passage of a certain course of procedures, the total duration of which is from 10 to 30 days. Therefore, the duration of stay at the resort is much higher than the average in tourism. This, as well as the fact that the cost of living at the resort includes payment for medical procedures, medical supervision, as well as increased comfort, makes resort tourism one of the most expensive types.
The health tourism market has been undergoing changes lately. Traditional resorts are becoming more and more multifunctional wellness centers designed for a wide range of consumers. There are a growing number of people around the world who want to keep fit and need restorative anti-stress programs. Basically, these are middle-aged people who are not alien to active physical rest. In addition, the reorientation of resorts to a new market segment is associated with a reduction in financial support from municipalities and the state.
There are different types of health resorts. In Russia, the main type of medical and prophylactic institution at the resorts is a sanatorium (from the Latin Sano - I treat, I heal). Small resort establishments are hospitals (water, mud baths), health resorts, boarding houses. A prerequisite for any resort establishment is the availability of medical personnel, treatment and health monitoring.
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