On 29th July 2015, the European Commission signed the grant contract, in the framework of which a 15 months' health tourism development was launched. The international project „OFF TO SPAS” is implemented in the cooperation of 7 partners of 4 countries. Hungary is represented by Pannon University (project coordinator), Tourism Non-profit Ltd. of Hévíz and the Municipality of County Zala, further members of the consortium are: AGE Platform Europe AISBL, Consiliul Judetean Covasna, Asociatia Pentru Dezvoltarea Turismului in Judetul Covasna and Travel Specialist Group Sweden AB.
The aim of the project is to create a Central European transnational balneological tourism product for the older (senior) age group that extends the market of medicinal and thermal tourism to those sending areas where the demand for medicinal and wellness tourism related to natural waters can be increased.
Objectives of the project:
- to create a tourism product network that takes into account the special needs of the older age group,
- to improve the number and quality of the cooperation between the members of the tourism value chain and the organisations/associations of the elderly,
- to increase the turnover of low or middle season in terms of tourism in order to improve the effectiveness and competitiveness of tourism SMEs,
- to promote tourism as the strategy of active and healthy aging,
- to increase the professionalism of the tourism service providers in order to ensure the sustainability and self-development of the project.
For the sake of all these, the following main activities will be implemented by the partners:
- Conducting a research in support of the health tourism development: market study concerning the elderly, surveys, comparative analyses, researches testing the market of the elderly and balneological issues, involving the membership of AGE Platform as well as the customers of the travel agency Travel Specialist Group Sweden AB,
- Creating a balneological tourism product network, - through the example of Hévíz and Covasna - which offers location- and market-specific medical and health assistance programs for the older age group,
- Discussion forums, workshops related to the project for the purpose of network building and partnerships, and exchanging good practices,
- Extensive marketing communication, which addresses decision makers and potential travellers, and conforms to the special needs of target groups and to tourism trends.
The first step of the project ending in September 2016 is the two days' meeting starting today in Hévíz, during which the participating partners coordinate the main tasks and actions.
The application was submitted in December 2014 by the partners for the European Commission's invitation to tender with the identification number „COS-TFLOWS-2014-3-15”. Due to the application prepared on high professional standards, the European Commission considered the project eligible for funding with the originally requested budget – with EUR 208,565 EU funds and EUR 69,533 deductibles. At the European Union level, a total of 10 application won support in the calling for tender.