Online meeting for representatives of SPA and local government (public administration) in NW Croatia

On 8 of July 2020, project partner City of Križevci together with external expert – national Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar has organised an online workshop and presentation for representatives of SPA and SPA municipalities in NW Croatia.

On 8 of July 2020, project partner City of Križevci together with external expert – national Energy Institute Hrvoje Požar has organised an online workshop and presentation for representatives of SPA and SPA municipalities in NW Croatia. Three reports concerning those SPAs and their municipalities were made within project and presented during meeting. This was also an opportunity to discuss collaboration between local governments and SPAs and to hear how they deal with the challenges created by health crisis and what should be done in future. The workshop was supposed to take place live in Zagreb at EIHP, but due to COVID-19 situation it was held through Zoom platform. There were total of 12 participants, unfortunately not all 6 SPAs and their municipalities could attend.

Lucija Topić (Project Manager, City of Križevci) greeted all present and gave a brief introduction to the Interreg Central Europe project "HealingPlaces" and the activities carried out so far during the project. Sanja Živković, Ph.D. (EIHP) presented national reports that they have made within the project. Representatives of SPAs and local governments (municipalities) were invited to comment on the presented reports and to share their examples of the cooperation between the SPA and the local government.

Nikola Gospočić (Mayor, City of Donja Stubica) pointed out Terme Jezerčica as the flagship of Stubica tourism and excellent cooperation with the management. He praised their initiative and achievements in the last year when the first auto-camp within the SPA in the Republic of Croatia was opened, for which Terme received the 3rd prize for the best small auto-camp in Croatia. Due to the epidemiological situation, with the decline in traffic and tourism in Terme, all investments were stopped, although Terme owns construction land with great potential for further development.

Renata Komadina (Director of Hotel Operations, Terme Tuhelj) pointed out that the state support is insufficient for the development of SPA tourism.

Krešimir Škof (Deputy Director, Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation of Stubičke Toplice) noted that after a long series of years, the legislative framework for the field of health tourism has been resolved. He pointed out the large investments in accommodation capacities – more than 13 million EUR in the last few years, which gave the accommodation a level of 4-5 stars, and accommodation paid through the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance 2.5 stars. He noted that wastewater is used as sanitary water up to 3 times, but that the energy equivalent of 800 liters of fuel oil is still released into nature every day. Greenhouse vegetable production is planned, which would use thermal water to heat and water the plantations. Due to the epidemiological situation, the operation of the SPA was completely suspended in mid-March, and now the occupancy is around 50%, although the capacities were completely booked by the end of September. He also pointed out that in the state health Strategy, health tourism was mentioned with only 2 sentences, i.e. that it was completely ignored.

For the Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation of Varaždinske toplice – employees reported that the Minerva Hotel is undergoing energy renovation, and that outdoor swimming pools are planned to open by the end of July 2020. Renovation of all 3 buildings is also planned and work is being done to raise the quality of accommodation. Thermal water is used to heat and fill the pool.

Igor Nekić (General Manager, LifeClass Terme Sveti Martin) reported that a record year was expected, which was shown in the first two months of this year, but the suspension due to the epidemiological situation from mid-March is a serious blow to the company's business. At that time, work was being done on the reconstruction of the valve and pipe system in the thermal pool and in the catering facilities. At the end of May, the work in catering facilities started again, and from 11.06.2020 the Hotel resumed operations.

The excellent cooperation with the local government and the Tourist Board of Međimurje County through the allocation of coupons to consumers for certain products and services was emphasized.

With the re-increase in the number of infected persons, the number of reservations decreased, as did the number of cancelled reservations. With the aim of increasing the number of visitors for the autumn, the planned projects are focused on sports and outdoor activities. For now, they (LC Terme Sveti Martin) are working in accordance with the measures prescribed by the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Institute of Public Health, limiting the number of people in thermal facilities, increased disinfection in changing rooms and keeping hygiene measures at the highest level.