Ex-tourism minister advocates development of thalassotherapy in Croatia

ZAGREB, 19.3.2014.

Croatia's health tourism is not yet developed to u sufficient degree although the country possesses the necessary resources and potential both at the coastline and in the interior to enhance this branch of tourism, a tourism expert and former tourism minister, Pave Zupan Ruskovic, has told Hina.

In this context she advocates the development and promotion of thalassotherapy, the medical use of seawater as a form of therapy, noting that Croatia has not used its sea resources for this purpose, although, for instance, the quality of Croatia's seawater is much better than in France which initiated the development of the modern model of thalassotherapy in the 19th century in seaside towns in Brittany.

Thalassotherapy is based on the systematic use of seawater, sea products, and shore climate. The properties of seawater are believed to have beneficial effects upon the health condition of human beings.

According to Zupan Ruskovic, France has so far built 56 hotels and facilities for the practice of thalassotherapy and an additional 10 are being built.

She estimates that a score of the existing similar hotel facilities from Umag, Istria, to Cavtat, the southernmost Croatia, could already offer this method of therapy, undertaking only minor improvements on their premises.

Unfortunately, interest has not been expressed, she said explaining that some in Croatia believe that they earn enough during the peak season in the summer and they need not work in the rest of the year.

Thalassotherapy-oriented hotels can work all year round, thus contributing to efforts to raise of the annual use of hotel capacities from the "current shameful 48%" in the facilities at the coast and subsequently create more jobs, she said.

The average investment in thalassotherapy-oriented facilities ranges between EUR 10-15 million and creates jobs for 50 specialists, and Zupan Ruskovic believes that they may be projects eligible for withdrawing European Union funds.

As far as she knows, currently two such facilities are at the planning stage.

There are 620,000 regular guests from all over the world who come to France twice a year for thalassotherapeutic treatment at least for seven days, and Croatia can find its share on this market, too, the expert told Hina.

She believes that guests from Russia, Azerbaijan, Scandinavia, Germany and other part of world with more unfavourable weather conditions can be attracted to thalassotherapeutic treatment.

In this context, she also advocates the cooperation of spas in the interior of the country with future thalassotherapy-oriented facilities at the Croatian Adriatic coast.