The European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA) – also a UNWTO Affiliate Member – has been accepted to contribute to the UNWTO’s 2022 Programme of Work, and as a result is organising this “International Congress on Thermal Tourism”. After similar events held in the Province of Ourense in 1999 and 2011, this is the third Congress on this theme.


The International Congress on Thermal Tourism 1999  (Mondariz-Balneario, Spain)  was organised by the World Tourism Organisation, Tourspain and
the Xunta de Galicia
(Member of EHTTA).


The International Congress on Thermal Tourism 2011
(Ourense, Spain)
was organised by the same partners and also with the collaboration of the municipality of Ourense and the Government of the Ourense Province.


Now, in 2022, a new International Congress is being planned, aiming to be of the highest quality, with global participants and an extensive programme. Around 300 international delegates are expected and there will be speakers from all continents.

Sustainable Thermal Destinations for the future

Thermal Tourism is a powerful tool to contribute to safeguard the world’s thermal heritage (natural, cultural and intangible) and to provide socio-economic benefits, including the dynamisation of rural areas and the creation of stable employment and income-earning opportunities. Thermal tourism needs to be recognised as an instrument for sustainable development and as a model for other tourism sectors or products.

Thermal destinations offer visitors the possibility of using all the attributes of the town for health, well-being, learning, entertainment, socialising and mindfulness (and/or spiritual wellbeing). All local stakeholders (public, private and citizens) can attend THE Congress to learn how cooperate to create a sustainable, innovative and competitive tourism product.

Thermal tourism is considered to be one of those fields of tourism which could experience the greatest growth after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourists will be looking for wellness experiences, immersing themselves in the destinations and interacting with local inhabitants. It is necessary to explore connections with other cultural and natural resources to create new and better sustainable thermal products.

Why Ourense?

AVE High speed train

The new AVE high-speed train line, opened in January 2022 connects Ourense with Madrid with a journey time of  2 hours and 15 minutes.
It offers a sustainable, and safe means of transport that gives more environmentally-friendly options for delegates wishing to attend THE Thermal Congress .

Xacobeo 21/22

Delegates will be offered the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in this Holy Year 2021-2022. Over 4-5 days, participants will walk to Santiago (100 km) and obtain the Compostela. This activity will be combined with thermal experiences in the days leading up to  THE Thermal Congress.

200th Anniversary

2022 marks 200 years since the foundation of the Ourense Province. The Diputación de Ourense has developed a preliminary project to study the possibilities of transforming the Provincial Palace into the Gran Hotel Balneario Auria. A special guided visit will be organised during  THE Thermal Congress.