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Utilize the potentials for the development of health tourism

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Montenegro has enormous potential to become a year-round tourist destination by promoting health, congress, cultural, and complementary tourism, as assessed at the session of the Health Tourism Coordination Committee of the Chamber of Economy (PKCG).

The President of the Coordination Committee, Marina Delić, stated that Montenegro has significant potential, but it is necessary to strengthen the overall infrastructure and contribute jointly to realizing the full potential of these tourism forms.

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“Health tourism has always existed within the medical field, but in the last 15 years, it has experienced its heyday. Therefore, we must unite our efforts and understand that Montenegro must expand its tourism product throughout the year because it has much to offer,” Delić emphasized at the session held in cooperation with the Innovative Working Group for Sustainable and Health Tourism at the Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort in Prčanj.

Delić believes that it is crucial to develop a Health Tourism Program with an action plan, identify weaknesses, and work towards their resolution because Montenegro, in her words, has the conditions and space but needs to prepare the locations.

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The President of the Medical Chamber, Žanka Cerović, agreed with the assessment that health tourism in Montenegro is of great importance and added that the government is extremely aware of this potential.

“We must jointly provide concrete proposals and suggestions to move in the right direction. I believe we should start with the Igalo Institute, which is the cornerstone of health tourism and something we must not overlook,” Cerović emphasized.

Zoran Kovačević, the Director of the Institute, stated that the Institute is the cornerstone of health and medical tourism, with qualified staff, but due to circumstances, it has found itself in a difficult situation and is facing bankruptcy.

He also mentioned that the new government has reacted quickly and formed a commission to find solutions for the Institute.

“We hope the commission will provide timely answers. We want to find the best model that will comply with regulatory provisions and thus preserve the Institute,” Kovačević said.

Sandra Bojanić, a representative of the Ministry of Tourism, Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Development of the North, agreed that the Institute must be preserved, and most of the Development Program for Health Tourism should be devoted to it.

She believes that it is necessary to familiarize the public with the concept of health tourism, activate the economy to provide concrete proposals, and involve local governments with specific initiatives.

Nataša Žugić, a representative of the Ministry of Health, stated that the Institute is recognized as the leader in health tourism in Montenegro, and the government remains committed to keeping it in the majority ownership of the state.

She added that health tourism cannot exist without the healthcare sector, so cooperation with all stakeholders, especially connecting with the Medical Chamber, is necessary to develop this area on common grounds.

Jelena Zvizdojević, the Coordinator of the Innovative Group for Sustainable and Health Tourism, said that they conducted research last year to encourage local governments to get more involved because without them, the development of health tourism will not progress at the planned pace.

She believes that the problem lies in the absence of legislative framework and that it is necessary to adopt a Health Care Law soon, which will clearly define the concept of health tourism. It is important, according to her, to adopt standards in this area and establish a registry of entities providing health tourism services.

Zvizdojević added that the revenue from health tourism in Europe exceeds €46 billion or 0.33% of the gross domestic product, and half of Europeans are willing to travel for healthcare.

Ilija Moric from the company Moric and a member of the Innovative Working Group for Sustainable and Health Tourism, believes that the lack of a registry is a serious shortcoming, and a law is necessary to clearly define this area.

According to him, urgent steps are needed to consider forming an intersectoral body to conduct market research and analyze guest profiles to clearly define standards in the field of health tourism. The current fragmentation and lack of unity make us vulnerable,” Moric concluded.
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