Arab health global patient services directory 2019: Medical Wellness: Opportunity for future clinics and hotels

In an inter­view, Lutz Lung­witz, Pres­i­dent of the Ger­man Med­ical Well­ness Asso­ci­a­tion and vice-pres­i­dent of Glob­al Health­care Trav­el Coun­cil, Berlin, dis­cuss­es the dif­fer­ent fac­tors that are boost­ing the country’s posi­tion as the pre­ferred Med­ical Well­ness destination.

1) What trends are you notic­ing with­in the tourism indus­try in Germany,what do you think is dri­ving the­se­trends and how are you responding?

It has been estab­lished that Med­ical Well­ness is the com­bi­na­tion of con­ven­tion­al med­ical ser­vices, alter­na­tive ther­a­pies and offers the relax­ation of a tra­di­tion­al spa. There­fore, Med­ical Well­ness could be adver­tised in hotels, clin­ics, hos­pi­tals and day-spas.Firstly, the sus­tain­able trend in the tourism indus­try in Ger­many is grow­ing. Ger­many was well known for its out­go­ing tourism sec­tor but has a fast-grow­ing incom­ing tourism sec­tor too. The coun­try sees a grow­ing num­ber of tourists from many Euro­pean, Asian and Amer­i­can coun­tries. And health and med­ical well­ness tourism plays a grow­ing role in these devel­op­ments; not only on an inter­na­tion­al lev­el but on nation­al and region­al lev­els too. Sec­ond­ly, an age­ing Europe and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges are play­ing a big role and cre­at­ing an impact on the future mar­kets of health and med­ical well­ness tourism in Europe and in Ger­many in par­tic­u­lar. The touris­min­dus­try in Ger­many is get­ting ready to serve these grow­ing num­bers of elder­ly tourists, whether they are inbound or incom­ing, who are look­ing for med­ical assis­tance and treat­ments while on hol­i­days. Anoth­er big thing is the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of the tourism indus­try. With­in the health and med­ical well­ness tourism mar­ket, health data man­age­ment plays a grow­ing role. Today, trav­el­ling is con­nect­ed to the trav­el of pri­vate data and this has tobe safe and have the high­est stan­dards of data secu­ri­ty. This involves big data, mobil­i­ty, aug­ment­ed real­i­ty and pri­vate data secu­ri­ty and brings its share of chal­lenges as well as oppor­tu­ni­ties. And the Ger­man Med­ical Well­ness Asso­ci­a­tion rais­es aware­ness, is call­ing for adap­tion and deliv­ers con­sult­ing for these changes. Accord­ing to reports, the Med­ical Well­ness indus­try is set to increase to a bil­lion-dol­lar mar­ket world­wide. This is our basis for the project devel­op­ment for hotels, clin­ics, day-spa and destinations.

2) How do you stand out from the tourism crowd in Ger­many, what is unique about your offering?

Med­ical Well­ness tourism is not main­stream tourism. Its ori­en­ta­tion means spe­cial­i­sa­tion and dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion at the same time. It needs a spe­cial under­stand­ing and a spe­cial­ly designed ser­vice for the spe­cial needs of the cus­tomers – the med­ical well­ness tourists. We were already experts in med­ical well­ness tourism, when it was a very niche mar­ket in the glob­al tourism indus­try. We from the Ger­man Med­ical Well­ness Asso­ci­a­tion were the first; and we are well expe­ri­enced experts now. We can tell, teach, plan, con­sult and man­age the spe­cial­i­sa­tion and dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion towards a med­ical well­ness ori­en­ta­tion for all the dif­fer­ent ele­ments in the tourism indus­try, whether it is a tourist des­ti­na­tion, a resort hotel or a tour operator.The unique­ness of our ser­vices shows, that we pur­sue both, region­al and inter­na­tion­al projects, each attempt­ing to “think out­side the box”. Like­wise, we pur­sue the goal of a clear posi­tion­ing of the cus­tomer, if desired, in the med­ical well­ness and reha­bil­i­ta­tion mar­ket. Over the past few years, the field of Med­ical Well­ness has expand­ed to include projects for healthy age­ing and healthy liv­ing. Like­wise, the med­ical device indus­try is devel­op­ing new, inter­est­ing mea­sure­ment meth­ods, to sup­port med­ical well­ness. Healthy, active age­ing is one of its core tasks.

3) What types of tourist are cur­rent­ly vis­it­ing Ger­many and where are they from?

Ger­many is a lead­ing inter­na­tion­al des­ti­na­tion for cul­tur­al tourists. Berlin, Ham­burg, Munich, all are des­ti­na­tions famous for a unique com­bi­na­tion of his­to­ry, her­itage and mod­ern urban­i­ty. When you think of Des­ti­na­tion Ger­many, you think of Okto­ber­fest and Goethe, Bauhaus and Berlin, Ham­burg Cruise Days and Cologne Street Car­ni­val. But with­in the huge streams of tourists from all over the world there are grow­ing num­bers of med­ical well­ness and health tourism tourists. With the ris­ing mid­dle class­es in devel­op­ing and emerg­ing coun­tries, a sus­tain­able grow­ing stream of tourists will come to enjoy the cul­tur­al divers and her­itage rich des­ti­na­tion that is Ger­many. Cur­rent­ly, the coun­try is vis­it­ed by a high num­ber of young peo­ple from all over the world. This is due to the flag­ship des­ti­na­tion and tourism mag­net of Berlin, with all the low-cost car­ri­ers land­ing in the city. An over­sup­ply of eco­nom­ic accom­mo­da­tion (hos­tels and high qual­i­ty one-star hotels) eas­es the overnight stays of young peo­ple in Berlin.French and Ital­ian tourists are also flock­ing in, due to a low­er cost of liv­ing. Swiss cit­i­zens ampli­fy their vis­its to Ger­many, due to an extreme­ly strong and sud­den increase of trav­el expens­es inside Switzer­land. Chi­nese and Japan­ese trav­ellers opt for round-trip pack­ages to trav­el from North to South (Berlin, Cologne, Hei­del­berg, Black For­est, and Bavar­i­an Castles).These expe­ri­ences with a large num­ber of inter­na­tion­al tourists in Ger­many and Europe are help­ful for us, for fur­ther devel­op­ing of med­ical well­ness hotels and resorts.

4) In which way invest­ment capital/​private equi­ty could be used?

Of course, we try to invest in the mar­ket and find investors for Med­ical Well­ness Hotels & Resorts, Clin­ics & Spa, but we also will share our exper­tise with inter­na­tion­al part­ners. So, we are very open to devel­op new inter­na­tion­al projects in dif­fer­ent coun­tries in the field of med­ical well­ness, reha­bil­i­ta­tion-pro­grammes, elder-care, clin­ics and more, future life. We are hap­py to work with inter­na­tion­al part­ners to devel­op trend-set­ting and finan­cial­ly fea­si­ble projects.

5) Tell us about your role in terms of pro­mot­ing Med­ical Wellness?

The Ger­man Med­ical Well­ness Asso­ci­a­tion (found­ed in the year 2004, the umbrel­la organ­i­sa­tion for Med­ical Well­ness in Ger­many, is a mem­ber of the Inter­na­tion­al Med­ical Well­ness Asso­ci­a­tion and it’s a part of the trav­el-trade indus­try, spe­cialised for health and well­ness. It is a non-gov­ern­ment organ­i­sa­tion, but in con­tact with the fed­er­al min­istry for health and with the fed­er­al min­istry of eco­nom­ic affairs and ener­gy, depart­ment of tourism. One of its tar­gets is the devel­op­ment of inter­na­tion­al health tourism pro­grammes, inter­na­tion­al exchange pro­grammes and the devel­op­ment of future con­cepts for the med­ical indus­try and hotels and clin­ics. We are also devel­op­ing some spe­cial edu­ca­tion pro­grammes for med­ical well­ness, so the indus­try can get well-edu­cat­ed employ­ees. (AH)

Lutz Lung­witz is the Pres­i­dent of the Ger­man Med­ical Well­ness Asso­ci­a­tion and vice-pres­i­dent of Glob­al Health­care Trav­el Coun­cil, Berlin.