Germany holds an excellent position in the health and fitness tourism market. Medical/health-oriented holidays are now an important factor for the German incoming tourism industry, with the greatest number of visitors arriving from the US, Eastern Europe and Asia.
More than 70,000 international patients used the services of the German healthcare system in 2007 – and the numbers are set to increase. Fierce competition exists between the individual countries for the business of foreign patients. Nevertheless, Destination Germany is extremely well placed with more than 35 top-rated university clinics and 1,800 hospitals.
“Wellbeing in Germany” is no empty marketing term; rather, it sums up the broad spectrum of individual treatments and facilities available to visitors to the country. Highly trained staff, expert care and impeccable service come as a standard.
The range of options is second to none: from relaxing holidays and health breaks to beauty therapies, medical wellness and leisure activities on land, water and in the air. But Germany always has something extra in store with beautiful landscapes for getting close to nature, a wide range of attractions for cultural visits and award-winning restaurants to boot.
There are also around 500 spa and wellness hotels that offer an incredible range of therapies, massages and treatments. They range from straightforward relaxation practices to complex, medically indicated programs that are accepted by a wide variety of health insurance and healthcare providers.
Visitors to Destination Germany are also graced with choice when it comes to beauty centers, with an abundance of retreats in stunningly beautiful regions. From regenerative peels with sea sand and Rügen chalk cures to herb-based treatments and goats’ butter baths, the theory is always the same – the better you feel on the inside, the better you look on the outside. This is a theory that German hotels put at the heart of their philosophy.
Schroth health cures are extremely popular in Germany. Named after its founder Johann Schroth, the naturopathic treatment is a highly effective combination of all-natural stimuli that activate the body’s own healing powers. The home of the Schroth health cure is the Bavarian town of Oberstaufen, where it is offered by 60 accommodation providers, including a 5-star hotel and holiday apartments.
Certified Wellness Packages Ensure High Quality
It can be difficult to choose when there is such a wide variety being offered. But it’s easy to just try something out. Trusted wellness marques help visitors make informed decisions. In Bavaria, for example, health and wellness holidays that carry the WellVital name fulfill a standardized set of quality criteria.
Holidaymakers can expect a minimum of 3-star accommodation in a natural setting, exercise, relaxation and nutrition programs and, of course, a range of wellness treatments provided by qualified staff. Oberstaufen has no fewer than 16 hotels that meet the WellVital standard and thereby qualify for its seal of approval. No other town in Bavaria has more WellVital hotels than Oberstaufen.
Wellness Stars are the equivalent in Baden-Württemberg in south-west Germany. Hotels, medical wellness facilities and thermal baths can have their wellness areas classified according to strict guidelines. Depending on the size of the premises, the equipment available and the scope of the services, a minimum of one and a maximum of five stars are awarded.
Wellness-Hotels-Deutschland GmbH has also raised the bar for certifiable quality. The company has set out a list of criteria that all hotels have to fulfill to receive its coveted wellness tree marque. Among other things, guests can expect a tranquil natural setting, accommodation of at least four stars, attractive and well-maintained wellness areas, trained personnel, a sustainable approach to energy resources, and food and drink created specifically for wellbeing and vitality. The 50 establishments that are permitted to carry this seal of quality are situated throughout Germany. Some of them specialize in medical wellness.
Visitors to Germany know they can trust the services of spa towns and health resorts when these are “state-approved”, which is the case for 350 towns spread right across Germany. All of these places have a distinctive appeal and offer state-of- the-art treatments on a firm medical footing. One of the oldest spa resorts in Germany is Wiesbaden, close to Frankfurt, with its therapeutic mineral springs. Already a popular health resort, its therapeutic mineral springs.
Already a popular health resort, the town is now established as a destination for high-quality medical treatments. Baden-Baden on the fringes of the Black Forest is a world-famous location: with its healing springs, elegant “cure clinics” and hotels, splendid parks and numerous leisure attractions, the town is an outstanding choice for a health-related break.
Many of the clinics based in the spa towns and health resorts specialize in specific areas and age groups. US travelers are generally accepted as private patients by the clinics where they are well looked after by English-speaking staff. State-of-the-art equipment and first-class medical care are all part of the standard package, while the picturesque surroundings, the fresh air and the beneficial climate aid the healing process enormously.
Medical Expertise and Visitor Attractions in the Same Trip
Visitors to Germany value the flexibility of the medical treatments on offer, but the country as a tourist destination is an important factor as well. There is simply so much to see and do. A health-related holiday can easily incorporate cultural attractions and culinary enjoyment – without even leaving the confines of the town, such as in the Lower Bavarian WellVital resort of Bad Füssing.
The special curative properties of the water there are complemented by a comprehensive range of therapies, including a major centre for Chinese medicine and a unique spinal therapy trail. As well as its local specialist clinics, Bad Füssing also offers facilities for short treatment courses. Cultural attractions include the Amber Museum and St. Leonhard Museum.
The historical pilgrimage church in Altötting is a popular place of interest in the surrounding region. With the Bavarian Forest National Park, Lower Inn European nature reserve and walking trails through the Bavarian Forest to Bohemia on the border with the Czech Republic, the surrounding countryside offers a striking contrast to the modern feel of Bad Füssing. There are also a number of restaurants offering a mouthwatering range of regional and international cuisine, catering for even the most discerning of palates.
The state-approved coastal resort of Ahlbeck is another that combines medical expertise with a strong tourism appeal. It is one of the three “imperial resorts” on Usedom, Germany’s most easterly Baltic island, with neighboring Heringsdorf and Bansin making up the trio. The mild, yet bracing climate, the beneficial effects of the sea and the iodine-rich saltwater pumped up from a depth of 408 meters all provide perfect conditions for health treatments, beauty and fitness and relaxing activities.
A stroll through the streets is a real treat thanks to the traditional spa villas with their pillars, frescoes, stuccowork, ornamentation, turrets and crenellations. Holidaymakers like nothing more than spending the evening in a relaxing setting dining on fish fresh from the catch, though hearty home-cooked fare is also part of the Usedom culinary tradition.
Wellness in the Focus of GNTB Marketing
In 2011, the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is focusing its international marketing activities on “Health & Fitness Holidays in Germany,” which will further cement Germany’s excellent position in the global medical tourism market.
One of the aims is to raise the profile of medical facilities in rural regions away from the major cities such as Hamburg, Berlin and Munich, and to appeal to new target groups. There is also potential to boost Germany’s market share in certain categories of medical tourism, and to increase the number of visitors by promoting specific treatments.
For extensive information on Destination Germany and its wellness landscape, visit www.cometogermany.com or get hold of a copy of the brochure: “Germany. Welcome to Wellbeing.”