Poland to concentrate on European medical tourists


Poland is one of Europe’s most popular medical tourism destinations. Having investigated the potential of American medical tourists, the Polish Association of Medical Tourism (PSTM) has decided that the costs of promoting to the US, compared to the returns, are not worthwhile. So it will continue to concentrate on European medical tourists, particularly those from Germany, Scandinavia and the UK.

According to the Polish Tourism Organisation the number of tourists travelling to Poland is expected to rise by 6% in 2011, from 12.4 million to 13.2 million. The figures come from the World Tourism Organisation.  Poland has launched a two-year campaign to promote the country abroad. It will be mainly targeted at Germans, the French and the British. Germans are the largest group of tourists who go to Poland. In 2011, 4.8 million of them will visit Poland, and in 2010 there were three Germans for every British tourist, Britain being the second highest provider.

Within the increased numbers are higher numbers of medical tourists. According to PSTM’s Artur Gosk, 280,000 patients will go to Poland in 2011. "We expect the sector's revenues to reach PLN 780 million," Both tourism bodies suggest that the political turmoil in North Africa and Middle East, and rising oil prices affecting air fares, will result in more Europeans travelling within Europe rather than venturing further afield.

Medical tourism is to receive financial aid from the Ministry of the Economy as part of support for Polish export products. Subsidies are to come from two sources - a national scheme for the promotion of chosen segments of the economy, equally divided between 15 sectors, giving medical tourism PLN 4.1 million- and a second scheme of PLN 150 million distributed unevenly.

Polish organizers of medical tourism has been looking for partners. In January, PSTM invited representatives of One Global Med, a US agency sending US citizens for medical treatment to South America and Asia. Americans visited Szpital Damiana hospital, Medicover Hospital, Carolina Medical Centre, Mavit Medical Centre, Rehabilitation Centre in Konstancin and the European Health Centre in Otwock. But Dariusz Dąbrowski at PSTM says the costs of acquiring patients from the USA are too high,” American partners expect us to spend US 75,000 per year for promotion”. They also want hospitals to spend considerable sums on international accreditation that most EU hospitals find irrelevant to the EU market. One debate is whether US agencies demand too large a commission from hospitals.



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