Bulgaria sees a future for dental tourism across the Balkans

 

The number of people in Europe looking to receive dental health care outside their own country has grown significantly in the last two years and the global economic crisis has only strengthened this tendency. The difference between dental care prices in the UK and Eastern European countries is as much as 70 per cent.

A recent conference on dental tourism in Bulgaria aimed to popularize the experience and good practice of dental tourism in Europe both among Bulgarian dentists and among Bulgarian tourism organisations. There are 8000 dentists and 3000 travel agents in the country. Ventsislav Stoev, chairman of the Bulgarian association for health tourism said, "Bulgaria can become the Mecca of dental tourism, if we manage to develop attractive holiday packages with included dental services. Latest statistical data show that the prices of these services in Bulgaria are seven times lower than in England." Some tour operators in the coastal city of Varna offer one week or fortnight packages that included premium-class dental services. Travel agencies in Bulgaria have joined forces with the dental clinics to attract more tourists to the crisis-hit country.

Romanian development and tourism minister Elena Udrea says she will grant support and campaign for the development of the country’s health tourism by extending easy terms to access European grants. At a meeting with local travel agents of the Dornele region, the agents raised the problem of co-financing for European projects, indicating that bank interest rates are high and the ministry should find solutions to allow for special loans to health tourism on easy terms.

Udrea toured the Vatra Dornei spa complex and said she was pleasantly surprised by the equipment and facilities of the resort that meet the existing European health tourism standards. Vatra Dornei is a famous spa for all ages, recommended for healthy people who want to fortify their bodies through mountain climbing or winter sports, and those who want to repose in a tonic bio-climate that has a soothing influence on the nervous system.

In the Balkans, Turkey has already won a position as a destination for medical, spa and wellness tourism. Other Balkan countries see it as a role model to emulate and help counter local economic problems. Bulgaria and Romania have taken steps in the last few years to attract tourists with offers for affordable quality dental care. Croatia and Serbia have developed a network of health services that they offer to medical tourists. Bulgaria is already seeing more Greek medical tourists who cannot afford treatment at home due to salary cuts and a collapsing economy.

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