Promotion of Health Tourism in which Hot Springs are Utilized for Medical Treatment and Accumulation and Dissemination of Empirical Evidence

Author Name SEKIGUCHI Yoichi (Senior Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. September 2020 20-P-021
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This paper considers measures for accumulating and disseminating evidence to support doctors recommending hot spring treatment to their patients, which could benefit the revitalization efforts of regional economies through the promotion of health tourism to regional hot springs.

While medical insurance covers the cost of hot spring treatments in Germany and France have evidence-based supporting the utilization of hot springs for medical treatment, it is difficult to accumulate and disseminate such evidence in Japan due to national university reforms, etc.. Toyotomi Hot Springs (Toyotomi Town, Hokkaido Prefecture), where the water is known to have beneficial dermatological effects, has welcomed the highest number of medical expense deduction applicants based on doctor recommendations, after being certified as a health promotion facility.

It is desirable to strengthen the system for accumulating and disseminating such evidence. Roles of an organization allocating research funds effectively and spreading research results are important. The French system may serve as a reference as a single national organization provides funding for research projects and disseminates information.