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Signe Velina, Market Access Manager Latvia of Johnson & Johnson
On June 27th over 20 business representatives of the American, British, Irish, Norwegian and Swedish Chambers of Commerce joined a discussion on Latvian health tourism development and export strategy.
Inese Sirava, Head of Tourism Department at the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) outlined the key directions in the Latvian Tourism Marketing strategy for 2018-2023,defining priority markets, tourism segments and planned activities.
Gunta Uspele, Head of the Latvian Health Tourism Cluster introduced "Health Export Action plan for 2019-2023", which was adopted by the Latvian government in March, 2019. Her presentation also included an overview of the cluster and their activities in promoting Latvian healthcare and medical tourism abroad.
The question of trust and the necessity or high quality standards was repeatedly brought up, indicating that Latvia has still a long way to go to be recognized as a prominent healthcare and medical tourism destination. While Latvia has many doctors with world-class knowledge and access to the most modern technologies, it still has to build recognition and gain trust in the Western European countries as a state-of-the-art medical service provider. An important step ahead is the recognition of Latvian medical education, exemplified by the high number of medical students from abroad.
Several practical ideas were shared during the discussion aimed at helping Latvia achieve its goals in this high value-added tourism segment. It was agreed that more public-private discussions are needed to ensure better coordination and cooperation in, first of all, shaping the image of Latvia and, secondly, promoting health and medical tourism in the targeted countries.
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Dace Silava-Tomsone, Managing Partner, COBALT