Eastern European countries target European medical tourists


Baltic Bariatric Services based in Riga, Latvia has entered the fast growing weight loss tourism market with a surgical programme. The company specializes in bariatric medicine, the branch of medicine focused on solutions for obesity.

Initially targeting Scandinavia and Central Europe, Baltic Bariatric hopes to tap into the global demand for obesity treatment by offering affordable gastric bypass surgery, the most radical solution available. Obesity is a worldwide epidemic and gastric bypass surgery ranks high on the list of most popular medical tourism procedures.

John Atkinson of Baltic Bariatric says, "There is an unmet demand at the lower price ranges. Patients who need care are being denied due to budget constraints and high prices. We have unique situation in Latvia - our doctors' fees are still fairly reasonable while our hospitals have been modernized to Western standards. That means a great value proposition for the prospective patient." Procedures are performed at a private hospital located in Jurmala, a small resort town just outside Latvia's capitol city, Riga.

The tiny country of Lithuania is close to the rest of Europe and the low cost of surgical and dental procedures in the private sector are due to the low cost of labour. With more dentists per capita than most countries, cosmetic dentistry tourism is increasing in popularity. Private clinics offer high standards.

As well as dentistry, spa treatment and health check-ups, Lithuania is also offering low-price cardiology, oncology, gynaecology, and other surgical treatment. Egle Poskiene, founder of medical tourism agency Your Health First, is seeing a growing interest from patients from the UK in Lithuania due to the increased number of cheap Ryanair flights to Kaunas from Stansted, Gatwick and Luton.

CroMedicor is a new network that connects hospitals, clinics, medical professionals and their specific health treatments to hotels and other aspects of Croatian tourism. CroMedicor promotes Croatia as a destination for health tourism.

In an attempt to help Romania’s economy back on its feet, the government has recently increased VAT from 19% to 24%. The good news is that medical services and supplies in Romania do not carry VAT .The even better news is that tourism VAT on hotel and transport remains at 9% which is a preferential rate the industry has enjoyed for several years. Romania’s position as a top medical tourism destination is improving both as the value of the Euro is rising against local currency, and prices for medical tourism are stable or decreasing as service providers for cosmetic dentistry, hip/ knee surgery or laser eye surgery cut prices.

Romania has emerged as one of the most popular destinations in Europe for dental treatment on account of unprecedented growth in its dental market over the recent years. It is anticipated that dental tourism numbers will rise at an annual rate of around 17% during 2010-2012 due to government support on promotional activities worldwide. As the country has one of the highest numbers of dental clinics of international standard, medical tourists from all over the world have started taking an interest in Romania for their dental treatment.



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