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Crimea striving for development as All-Russia health resort

Mud therapy was practiced in Crimea since the ancient times
People taking a mud bath in Crimean Chokrakskoe lake  Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS
People taking a mud bath in Crimean Chokrakskoe lake
© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, November 16. /TASS/. Crimea was known as an "all-Union health resort" in the Soviet times but after the collapse of the USSR its healthcare potential was almost forgotten, experts say.

The peninsula is now struggling to revive its famous health resorts, offering new services both for the elder and younger generations.

Crimea’s tourism minister Vadim Volchenko told TASS that the republic has many advantages as compared with other resorts.

"Health tourism has a huge potential," he said.

According to Yelena Trubnikova, the head of the health tourism association, Crimea is a brand, which needs further development and promotion.

"Croatia and Slovenia were also positioned as healthcare brands. And for many Russians Crimea means revitalization and rehabilitation."

Many people travel to Crimea for climate therapy, a treatment of lung diseases and allergic conditions using sea air.

"Crimea has been always known as a climatic resort," said Mikhail Danilov, the health tourism association’s medical director. "The local sanatoriums were built to treat tuberculosis and other lung diseases. Crimea has ideal conditions combining sea and sub-mountain climates. Unlike Sochi’s subtropical climate, Crimea’s climate is almost Mediterranean."

Mud therapy was practiced in Crimea since the ancient times. The town of Saki in the peninsula’s west is the most popular mud therapy center in Russia. The first mud spa center was built here back in 1827.

Crimean mud baths are used to treat various diseases like infertility, skin and neurological conditions and musculoskeletal disorders.

However, mud therapy may have a number of side effects and can be prohibited to patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases and children under 18.

Crimea also boasts more than 100 mineral springs but only ten of them are currently being used for treatment.

According to Yelena Los, the head of the resort department of the Crimean tourism ministry, the huge potential of the republic’s mineral water spas has not been fully realized.

"We have mineral springs in the east. For some reason, these resorts got no development in the Ukrainian period despite all opportunities for this," she said.

The peninsula has many health resorts for children, for instance, the resort of Yevpatoria in the West is treating children with cerebral palsy.

"We are developing therapies launched in the Soviet times," Los said.

Many modern Crimean hotels were built on the basis of Soviet resorts, which makes the infrastructure modernization one of the key tasks.

"Some 55 resorts have already undergone renovation," Los said.

Crimean hotels have also started opening health clinics and prenatal centers and offering special medical programs for their guests.

Experts say that such hotels have more chances to attract tourists.

According to Los, Crimea’s tourism ministry is seeking new ways to support health resorts. In 2017. The ministry developed a program to support resorts working in the off-season.

Danilov, the health tourism association’s medical director, said the lack of promotion and information about the Crimean resorts is one of the republic’s key problems.

He said Crimea is "a kind of terra incognita" for the younger generation born after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Crimea should focus on attracting younger tourists who often know nothing of the opportunities of the peninsula’s resorts.

"We should break down the stereotype that health resorts are meant for elderly people," Los said.