Research: SPEIER,

Listed in Issue 210


SPEIER, Department of Anthropology, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA. explores the changing shape of health tourism in a Czech spa town.



The research focuses on balneotherapy as a traditional Czech healing technique, which involves complex drinking and bathing therapies, as it is increasingly being incorporated into the development of a Czech health tourism industry.


Today, the health tourism industry in Marianske Lazne is attempting to 'harmoniously' combine three elements - balneology, travel and business activities. One detects subtle shifts and consequent incongruities as doctors struggle for control over the medical portion of spa hotels. At the same time, marketing groups are creating new packages for a general clientele, and the implementation of these new packages de-medicalizes balneotherapy. Related to the issue of the doctor's authority in the spa, the changes occurring with the privatization of tourism entails the entrance of 'tourists' to Marianske Lazne who are not necessarily seeking spa treatment but who are still staying at spa hotels.


There is a general consensus among spa doctors and employees that balneotherapy has become commodified. Thus, while balneotherapy remains a traditional form of therapy, the commercial context in which it exists has created a new form of health tourism.


Speier AR. Health tourism in a Czech health spa. Anthropology & Medicine. 18(1):55-66, Apr 2011.

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