With health and wellness tourism gaining more and more popularity, the opportunities facing Iceland as a health tourism destination certainly seem to be bright.
In 2010, the Association of Iceland of Health was established, whose primary function is to promote health and wellness tourism in Iceland. With the goal of developing and supporting innovative quality services regarding travel, accommodation, treatment and cure in a professional way, the association strengthens Iceland’s reputation where professionalism and quality are paramount in the field of health and wellness.
Healing powers of Iceland
On an island full of steam, where fire and ice are combined, the inhabitants of Iceland have long enjoyed the privilege of geothermal water and the healing powers of natural steam baths. Widely respected and practiced, balneotherapy (healing the body and mind by bathing) has, in fact, been a part of the culture for centuries. Today, places such as the NLFI Spa and Medical Clinic in Hveragerði, South Iceland and Reykjalundur Rehabilitation Centre close to Mosfellsbær have both enjoyed its benefits. There are numerous other spas, some, such as Laugar, right in Reykjavik.
The Blue Lagoon is perhaps a better known example, a large lagoon set in the lava fields on Reykjanes Peninsula, filled with active ingredients from geothermal seawater, minerals, silica and algae. Well known for its effects on patients suffering from psoriasis, the Blue Lagoon’s services are constantly developing, in collaboration with some of the worlds most distinguished scientists.
But Iceland has a great deal more to offer in the field of health and wellness and therefore the Icelandic Health Care System has been looking at opportunities regarding cross-border healthcare.
There are a growing number of travellers falling into the category of medical tourists – those bypassing health related services offered in their own communities – who are typically seeking the benefits of less expensive dental, eye or cosmetic surgeries elsewhere. According to a recent survey, the package deal for a British patient seeking eye surgery - including the flight, accommodation and surgery in Iceland was both less expensive plus a faster process than in his home country.
Establishments such as Sjónlag Eye Centre, a leading refractive surgery centre, with highly trained experts in laser vision correction and intraocular surgery has been providing this service to many foreigners.Iceland’s future role in healthcare
Looking at Iceland’s future in health tourism, as it builds a strong reputation, recognition and respect, there are points to explore and ponder.
What people worldwide generally have in common is the longing for wellness of body and soul and the desire to ‘get away from it all’. With Iceland’s unique natural settings whether by the sea, in the countryside or in the mountains, the country is ideally positioned to fulfill such longings.
What is needed, both in the medical field and that of health and wellness, is to connect the concept of this island’s healing powers and its high level of education and promote Iceland as a Wellness Country. Iceland is to be desired and sought after by foreigners all year round in the terms of what it has to offer.
While the Icelandic nation is generally well educated, sadly many of those who are highly skilled professionally in the medical field tend to look for positions outside the country as the Icelandic market for their knowledge and skills is minimal.
We have natural healing sources, we are well advanced in the medical field and have an excellent infrastructure. Together, they provide an excellent combination to bring the aspirations of people worldwide for health and wellness to fruition. It has already begun and many are seeing a long-desired change in their lives. Now the world needs to know.