"Paralympic sport has improved greatly in recent years"- Teresa Perales
The "Decyde Forum", organized by Fernando Zaplana Consulting Group and Universidad Catolica San Antonio de Murcia regarding 'Tourism, health, integration and sport'. Experts in all these areas joined the forum and discussed these topics in two panels.
The first panel discussion (Tourism and Sport) included Luis Mesa, CEO of the Castillo Hospital; Joaquín Martínez, director of communication of the Pinatar Arena; Juan Alfonso Garcia, Dean of the Faculty of Sport (UCAM); and Ginesa Martínez del Vas, Vice Dean of the Degree in Tourism (UCAM).
The importance that Murcia is gaining as a tourist destination in the areas of health and sport dominated the debate. Ginesa Martinez recalled that "15% of tourists who visit Spain are closely linked to sporting motives. Tourism and sport are united by values such as knowledge and physical activity. The importance lies not so much in the destination but in the activity which will be performed".
Pinatar Arena is a tourist destination that has gained importance in the Region of Murcia. Joaquín Martínez commented that "in the past two years 6,000 players from 25 different nationalities have visited the sports facilities at Pinatar Arena, which took advantage of the location and climate of the Region of Murcia to attract athletes and teams, reflected in a booking of as much as 20,000 hotel nights during the low tourist season ".
With regards to health tourism Luis Mesa commented that "we have agreements with various sports and leisure centers, and 'tour operators' who are experts in health issues which attracts people from other countries to come to Spain for surgery or health treatments because they are cheaper".
Juan Alfonso García added: "The Faculty of Sport at the UCAM is dedicated to forming professionals. It is important that people offering sports-related services are properly trained and certified ".
'Integration of sport and disability' was the title of the second panel of discussion, which was attended by Teresa Perales, Paralympic swimmer with 22 medals; Ivan Toscano, Paralympic basketball player; José Grin, President of the Commission of Cycling derived from the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation; and Juan Gonzalez, sports psychologist and coordinator in the psycho-educational area of Elche Club de Fútbol.
Paralympic sport is continually evolving, and the need for professionals in all areas was one of the main topics discussed. Teresa Perales, with 16 years in tan elite career, commented that "previously we only had monitors for Paralympic sports, but now we have properly trained coaches in almost every discipline. There is still a lot of work to be done but there has been a significant improvement in Paralympic sport in recent years".