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The younger generation in Hungary is increasingly embracing health tourism as a growing trend.

Health tourism has experienced a post-Covid surge, as people seek to escape quarantine and explore nature-based wellness programs and a variety of traditional and modern services. Hungarian preferences have shifted towards activities like forest bathing and Turkish baths, blurring the boundaries between different wellness experiences. The demand for outdoor leisure activities, which gained momentum during the pandemic, continues to thrive. Health tourism expert Andrea Szegedi emphasizes that new opportunities have emerged for a healthier, nature-oriented lifestyle that many individuals have longed for.

The sector has effectively responded to this increased interest by offering a range of programs, including forest bathing or sinrin-yoku, a Japanese practice that encourages visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquility and ambiance of the forest. During a forest bath, all senses are engaged as participants slow down, find stillness, and turn their focus inward. This approach, originally used in Japan in the 1960s as a means of escaping the pressures of urban life, resonates with Hungarians today, particularly in light of the lingering effects of the Covid pandemic and the upcoming economic challenges.

Moreover, the pandemic has prompted a realization that while remote work has its advantages, there are drawbacks to spending excessive time within the confines of one’s home. Lack of physical activity and poor posture during prolonged computer use have been linked to adverse health effects. Szegedi highlights an increase in musculoskeletal problems among Generation Z, with young people aged 17-18 seeking spa treatments and massages to alleviate back pain and headaches.

However, there exists a generational gap in spa culture, as today’s parents and children are less familiar with thermal bathing compared to their great-grandparents and grandparents. Szegedi stresses the importance of educating young people about the therapeutic benefits of thermal waters, as Hungary boasts numerous thermal springs and spa towns, eliminating the need to travel long distances for wellness experiences. Last year alone, nearly one million medical bath treatments were administered in national, district, and local baths, with specialists prescribing 15-20 suitable treatments twice a year through discounted passes. The most popular subsidized medical bath treatments include therapeutic hydrotherapy pools, medical therapeutic massages, and underwater group therapeutic gymnastics.

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