Developments in European medical tourism: Belarus, Czech Republic, Portugal

 

Often forgotten among noisier and larger competitors, several small European countries are making progress on medical tourism.

The Algarve in Portugal seeks to promote itself as a destination of excellence in the field of health and welfare. The Algarve has been losing ground in the health and wellness tourism sector to Tunisia and Croatia, where both are winning business that locals think should go to Portugal. Problems in Africa could make people look again at alternatives such as Portugal

João Viegas Fernandes, of the Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo da Universidade do Algarve explains, “Tunisia, due to political decisions made 15 years ago, now has some of the best thalassotherapists in the world” (Thalassotherapy is the therapeutic use of ocean and marine products to restore and remineralize the body). Croatia, Turkey and Morocco are also going all-out to attract tourists interested in non-conventional medicinal treatments and therapies. But, in the Algarve, all we have done to jump on the health bandwagon is offer foreigners and tourists a few private hospitals.”

Belarusian doctors are promoting medical tourism. A few hundred patients come to the tiny state of Belarus each year, and signs suggest it could soon be thousands. While Poland seems low price to Germans, Belarus seems a bargain to Poles.

Price is the main thing that Polish medical tourists are interested in and several Polish travel agencies are promoting Belarus as a destination. Belarus is seeking ways of promoting the country’s sanatorium and spa treatment, as well as medical procedures- calling destinations health resorts rather than sanatoriums may be a vital first step.
 
In Belarusian clinics international patients, in particular the Poles, are primarily interested in cardiology, cancer treatment and recovery, plus fertility treatment.

The Czech Republic is a major European tourist destination and increasingly attracts health and medical tourists. As well as the more traditional spa and wellness tourism, an increasing number of Europeans are going to the Czech Republic for fertility treatment, cosmetic surgery, dental care, laser eye surgery, anti-obesity surgery and simple surgery such as hip replacement.  

Spa towns have been a tourist magnet for both people inside and outside of the country for over a century. But medical tourism is much newer. Finally accepting the potential of the market, Czech Tourism is investing heavily in promoting the country as a medical tourism, wellness and medical spa destination. The advertising and marketing promotions are targeting Russia, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Gulf States and even Kazakhstan.

The Czech Republic is trading on its health tourism expertise and reputation for excellence in service and treatment at very reasonable prices; so is attracting customers from Germany, Norway, Ireland and the UK.

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