On November 6, 2019, a workshop of the Latvian Stakeholders’ Working Group of the “Innovative health solutions for thermal spa regions - InnovaSPA” project, was held at the University of Latvia. The workshop was organized by the Center for European and Transition Studies and was attended by more than 20 representatives of the Latvian SPA, medical and tourism sectors. During the workshop, the participants discussed activities and outcomes of the study visits organized during 2019 in InnovaSPA partner regions and the InnovaSPA activities planned for 2020, including the study visit to Latvia, planned for July 2020.
The InnovaSPA workshop was attended by representatives of the National Rehabilitation Center "Vaivari", Ministry of Health - Public Health Department, "Latvian Red Cross", Resort Rehabilitation Center "Jaunķemeri", Latvian Health Tourism Cluster, Hotel Jurmala SPA and representatives from Baldone Regional Council, Riga Stradins University, Latvian Association of Rehabilitation Doctors and others.
During the workshop, previous InnovaSPA project activities and study visits were reviewed and analyzed by the Project Manager Zane Zeibote. In this respect study visits carried out in France, Hungary, Lithuania and Portugal were discussed. Latvian stakeholders having participated in particular study visits, shared their experiences with others and commented good practices introduced during the study visits. In 2020, InnovaSPA study visits are planned in Slovenia, Romania, Latvia and Poland.
The final speaker of the workshop was Ilona Kalniņa – Senior Expert of the Sectoral Policy Department of the Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia (Managing Authority). She provided an overview of the policy developments in the area of SPA medicine, development of health resorts and medical tourism, as well as spoke about the possibilities for allocation of resources under the EU Operation Program, during the actual and the next programming period. In addition, Ms. Kalnina presented the new guidelines of the “Latvian Tourism Policy 2021 - 2027”. At the end of the presentations, the stakeholders discussed various issues related to development perspectives of medical SPAs and resorts.
Participants of the meeting concluded that the project's activities up to date have been useful for the Latvian stakeholders, including study and experience exchange visits abroad. Currently, transfers of good practices from other European regions have been considered by several stakeholders. From April to September, 2020 this experience will be continued, and conclusions on which good practices would be useful and possible for implementation in Latvia, will be drawn. Next year will also be decisive for defining further national policies for the development of the Latvian SPA medicine and health resort industries.
The planning of the InnovaSPA study visit to Latvia has already started and during December 2019, and from January to March 2020, the University of Latvia representatives will visit the Latvian health and SPA resorts. During these visits will be discussed the good practices which are going to be presented to other project regions, in their quests for improvement of preventative health and thermalism policies.