The future plans for Cyprus as a medical tourism centre

 

Can you provide a brief overview of the role of Cyprus Health Services Promotion Board in the development of Medical Tourism to Cyprus?

Cyprus is a long established tourist destination with an international reputation. It has been an EU member since 2004 which ensures that all the necessary EU directives are introduced and incorporated into national legislation. It is also in the Euro zone which enables people to budget easily for their expenditures. And... it has a unique position at the continental crossroads between Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East making itself easily accessible.

Health tourism services in Cyprus have seen marked growth and improvement over recent years, creating  the need for an organisation whose main concern would be to place Cyprus on the global medical tourism map through a variety of actions.

In 2006, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce & Industry took the initiative and established the Cyprus Health Services Promotion Board a non-profit organisation whose membership consists of all the major hospital, clinics, doctors and other stakeholders of the medical tourism industry in Cyprus.

The Cyprus Health Services Promotion Board works closely with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, the Ministry of Energy Commerce Industry and Tourism, the Ministry of Health, the Cyprus Medical Association and the Cyprus Dental Association. All of these organisations serve as ex-officio members on the board of directors of the Cyprus Health Services Promotion Board, enhancing our efforts to promote Cyprus and expand the island’s medical tourism industry.

The majority of our actions are funded by the CTO and the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism;  many of our events are co-organised with the medical and the dental associations.

How is Cyprus doing in the Medical Tourism market?

Medical tourism is a relatively new sector in Cyprus and for this reason there are no actual figures regarding the exact number of patients visiting the country. However, the number of treatment requests is constantly increasing, mainly for dental services, cosmetic and spine surgeries, fertility treatments (IVF) and a vast range of other medical and wellness treatments.

Cyprus is particularly attractive to the UK market, as English is widely spoken throughout the island and due to the fact that most of our doctors are familiar with the UK healthcare system. Other important markets for Cyprus are Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and the Middle East.

Is the market growing /declining/static?

Medical tourism is undoubtedly a growing sector for our tourist industry. Several private initiatives have managed to attract patients from all over the world including the US. The reasonably priced health care, the well-equipped technologically – sophisticated hospitals and clinics, the high nursing standards together with the high standards of tourism as well as our traditional hospitality makes Cyprus a quality destination for medical tourism.

How have the recent EU and economic problem effected healthcare in Cyprus and medical tourism in particular?

We see the crisis as an opportunity for further development. Organisational and structural reforms are already taking place and due to the financial crisis more stakeholders have been in search for new niche markets such as medical tourism. Despite the challenging economic environment, we are witnessing new investment opportunities both for the medical and wellness sector in Cyprus; investments that will enhance our product and quality of treatment.

What is the strategy for Cyprus in medical tourism?

After identifying that medical tourism can become a fundamental pillar of our economy, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation conducted a strategy aiming to establish our island as a popular destination for health travellers. This strategy contains views, opinions of all the stakeholders of the medical tourism industry including hospitals, individual doctors, hotel managers, spa and wellness centers, travel agency companies, medical coordinators, government officials and many more. The main markets for Cyprus have been identified as the UK, Russia and the Middle East. Of course as previously mentioned generally all the countries of the EU are equally important.

All kinds of treatments are available in Cyprus. These are the most popular for medical tourists at present:

  •     Check-ups /diagnostic tests
  •     Elective surgery
  •     Dentistry
  •     Cosmetic and plastic surgery
  •     Wellness treatments
  •     Eye surgery
  •     Assisted reproduction/IVF
  •     Cardiology
  •     Neurosurgery
  •     Orthopaedic surgery
  •     Climatotherapy treatment

What activities are you undertaking or are you planning to undertake to promote Cyprus?

We are already working on our action plan based on the CTO’s Strategy for the organization, development and promotion of health tourism in Cyprus, a strategy that we are aiming to fulfil at the maximum possible level. The main elements of the strategy include:

  •     Participation in overseas exhibitions
  •     Organisation of conferences in Cyprus
  •     Organisation of B2B meetings
  •     Organisation of familiarization trips hosting foreign decision makers
  •     Organisation of press trips hosting foreign journalists
  •     E-marketing
  •     Organisation of educational “seminars” for our members
  •     EU funding of medical tourism initiatives
  •     Publications

Aside from our promotional activities, we are also keen in trying to involve key people, and core organizations in the medical tourism industry in Cyprus. We work closely with the CTO, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Energy,  Commerce Industry and Tourism, all the medical associations in Cyprus as well as with a number of other large and important companies on the island in order to promote and implement common projects which will help the strengthening of the medical tourism industry in Cyprus.

We do know that healthcare in Cyprus is of a very high standard…It’s time for the rest of the world to find out about it as well!

What do you see as Cyprus' advantages as a medical travel destination?

Travelers have been coming to Cyprus since 9500 BC in order to be treated by Cypriot doctors. Today, the Cyprus Health industry offers diagnostic check-ups and many treatments of enviably high standards, like fertility treatments, cosmetic and plastic surgery, eye surgery, cardiology, dentistry, orthopaedic, dermatology. On top of that, Cyprus has an excellent reputation for the essential post-operative care, while its Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and mild winters, is ideal for recuperating patients as well as for those accompanying them.

One of Cyprus’ greatest assets of which it can be justifiably proud is the human capital. Most of the island’s physicians have trained at world recognized medical schools, thus providing a valuable range of knowledge, experience and innovation. The English language is widely spoken throughout the island and a large number of physicians also speak Russian, Arabic, German, Italian and French. There is more to it…Cyprus offers value for money with medical costs being cheaper than at home and no cost spared with regards to safety and quality of services.

In addition, the Κyperounda area has the perfect climate and a magnificent environment that can alleviate symptoms of asthma in a natural way. Interestingly, the beneficent Cyprus can heal  people who are suffering from symptoms resulting from the lack of sunshine in their home country.

Also, our spas provide holistic wellness using the broadest range of popular techniques for the mind, body and soul including mineral spas, which make use of the natural qualities of thermal springs with healing properties, as well as hydrotherapy centers where the properties of water are used for therapeutic purposes. More over, Cyprus has a unique variety of 674 healing herbs that can offer you an amazing experience during a local treatment.

The main advantages of Cyprus as a Medical Tourism destination are:

  •     Human capital and personal contact
  •     Modern and well-equipped hospital and clinics
  •     Hygiene, patient safety and security is of a very high standard (A number of our hospitals have managed to gain international accreditation whilst some others are in the process of doing so)
  •     Confidentiality
  •     Language – English is widely spoken throughout the island
  •     Ideal weather conditions for post treatment recuperation
  •     Due to the absence of a medical school in Cyprus all our doctors have studied and trained abroad
  •     Value for money
  •     Quality
  •     No waiting lists
  •     A rich history and a vibrant culture, providing endless options for companions
  •     Over 300 days of sunshine
  •     Low level of pollution
  •     Cypriot traditional hospitality
  •     Respect for all cultures and religions

Contact details for Cyprus Health Services Promotion Board

Person to contact: Polis Peratikos, Cyprus Health Service Promotion Board Officer

Address: 38, Grivas Dhigenis,& 3, Deligiorgis str. P.O.Box 21455, 1509 Nicosia, Cyprus

Tel: +357 22 88 98 90

Fax: +357 22 66 75 93

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.cyhealthservices.com

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