Health tourism, market data in Italy in 2024 and the most sought-after destinations

When it comes to health tourism refers to a specific category of tourism that includes the movement of people for reasons doctorsOf well being or thermal. The phenomenon is of great interest to theItaly, with citizens moving both from one Region to another and to go abroad in search of more advantageous solutions from an economic or yield point of view. Health tourism also represents a source of income for Italy, given that the country represents the ideal destination for many foreigners who come here mainly looking for wellness or spa services.

Health tourism in Italy in 2024

After the forced stop due to the Covid pandemic, the Italian health tourism has resumed its run, especially as regards the interregional movement of citizens. In the 2020 interregional health mobility has reached a value of 3.3 billion euros (Gimbe Foundation report), with the Regions of North which have proven to be more attractive than those of South.

Most recent data on the topic, relating to the years 2021 And 2022, are provided by CasAmica Odv, a voluntary organization that since 1986 has offered hospitality to sick people who decide to be treated far from home, as well as to their family members who accompany them. In 2022 alone, the organization said it welcomed around 5,000 people to its facilities Milan, Rome And Lecco, for a total of 40 thousand nights of hospitality. The figure marks a clear increase compared to 2021, with the value growing by 18 percent.

Who does health tourism in Italy

It is also very interesting to investigate the profile of those who do health tourism in Italy. According to Censis research Migrate for treatmentto move from their area of ​​residence in search of treatment better and more timely they are mainly children and teenagers. In more detail, every year approximately 71 thousand minors travel to undergo medical and surgical treatment. Precisely this high figure has pushed Censis to open reception facilities for sick children and young people in two particularly attractive cities, namely Milan and Rome.

Health tourism: the most searched destinations

The destinations most sought after by Italians that they carry out health tourism internal are represented by the Regions in which the healthcare sector is more developed than others. According to Report to Parliament on the financial management of regional health servicesat the top of the destinations is the Lombardy which in 10 years has grossed 6.176 billion euros from health tourism.

They follow herEmilia Romagna with 3.347 billion euros in proceeds, the Tuscany (1.336 billion), the Veneto (1.138 billion) and, as the only representative of Southern Italy in the top 5, the Molise (271 billion). And again the Friuli Venezia Giulia (148 billion), theUmbria (58 billion) and the Autonomous Province of Bolzano (45 billion).

There is, as is evident, a clear separation between the North and the South of Italy, as also underlined by Alessandro Solipaca, scientific director of the National Observatory on Health in the Italian Regions: “Lazio and Campania have had a negative balance for some time. We must also think that for these areas there is a double advantage: the surplus of productive capacity is monetized through active mobility”.

Where do Italian medical tourists leave from?

For each destination destination of the Italian medical tourist there's one of departure. Citizens who travel in search of treatment across the country mainly depart from Southern regionswith data froml Report to Parliament on the financial management of regional health services which are very clear on the topic: Campania (-2.93 billion), Calabria (-2.7 billion) and Lazio (-2.1 billion), Sicily (-1.9 billion), Puglia (-1.8 billion ), Abruzzo (-823 billion), Sardinia (-742 billion), Liguria (-488 billion), Marche (-392 billion), Basilicata (-351 billion), Piedmont (-329 billion), Autonomous Province of Trento (- 97 billion), Valle d'Aosta (-75 billion).

For the Court of Auditors, “the greater or lesser attractiveness depends mainly on the greater quality and quantity of the health services provided, as well as on other factors that have a lesser impact such as the performance of the economy, which leads to a transfer of the population towards the richest regions, and the presence of university centers of excellence. It is no coincidence that the Regions with the greatest attractive capacity are positioned in the top places in the overall score assigned for the evaluation of the LEAs (Essential Levels of Assistance) relating to the year 2019”.

Health tourism from abroad

In order to increase the Italian data on health tourism coming fromabroadthe Ministry of Tourism financed (with a decree of 29 September 2022) with one and a half million euros for the Italicares Platform Project. The stated purpose of the plan is reduce the gap on health tourism that Italy accuses of neighboring countries such as Spain And Francewhere this form of tourism represents a fundamental pillar.

“The platform – said the tourism minister Daniela Santanchè – will integrate with the platform, thus guaranteeing a complete and diversified offer that can meet the needs of all tourist flows, particularly Northern Europe. In fact, health tourism represents an important accelerator for the development of a territory, as it is linked to the attractiveness and competitiveness of a nation, also in the health sector, generating important effects on the entire related industries”.

More than medical tourism, however, the ministry looks to the development of medical tourism well beingtaking advantage of “the immense heritage of thermal waters present in the national territory” and “an always favorable climate, which helps us to encourage deseasonalisation and differentiation of the tourist offer”.

The most popular European destinations for health tourism

By placing the focus onEurope it is indicative to highlight how the scenario of the most popular destinations of health tourism has been changing over the last few years. If in the data on the subject published by the European Parliament in 2015 the excessive power of five EU countries in health tourism emerged (Germany, France, Poland, Italy And Sweden), from more recent 2022 data published by the portal Dear It emerges that there are destinations that are increasingly conquering this market. It's about Poland, Romania, Hungary, Republic Czech And Croatiaall states that are gaining recognition for their excellence in healthcare and modern medical infrastructure.

Outside the European Union, however, health tourism is growingIndiathe ThailandThe Mexico and the Türkiye thanks to the correct combination of high healthcare and cost savings.