The average age of Europe’s population has been steadily rising and one of the EU’s main objectives for a competitive economy is the promotion of active and healthy ageing. Older people can make a significant contribution to Europe’s tourism industry and represent an enormous potential, also in terms of boosting local employment and spending power. It is important therefore to promote an integrated approach to age-friendly tourism, which takes into account both the diverse needs of seniors as well as the strengths of our local economies.
As part of the EU’s objectives of promoting entrepreneurship, active and healthy ageing, a delegation from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group in the European Committee of the Regions visited on 5 and 6 September Haapsalu Neurological Centre, Haapsalu College and Jüri Secondary School in the Estonian cities of Haapsalu and Rae, invited by ALDE-CoR Members Urmas Sukles, Mayor of Haapsalu and Mart Võrklaev, Mayor of Rae Municipality.
On the first day of the visit, the delegation met with Toomas Kivimägi, Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Estonia, Heli Müristaja, Head of the Tourism Competence Center (Pärnu College, University of Tartu) and Aire Toffer, General Manager of the Estonian Spa Association who explained that Estonia’s spa traditions date back hundreds of years, and that the popularity of spas is a reflection of the developments in Estonia’s health tourism. In 2008 Estonia saw the completion of a medical spa hotel quality system, and the first therapeutic spas underwent accreditation. The system was designed to inform clients of the range of services available and of the nature of these services.
Following the discussion, the delegation went on to visit Haapsalu Neurological Centre and Haapsalu College Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Competence Centre, an internationally acknowledged research, development, implementation and information mediation centre with its focus on research on curative mud, evaluation of its impact, development of know-how based entrepreneurship.
On the second day of the visit, the delegation traveled to Rae municipality, a fast growing municipality near Tallinn, where Mart Võrklaev, Mayor of Rae Municipality shared Estonian experience in the education of the entrepreneurship of the young people, in their preparation of entering the labour market and in involving companies in their education.