Hungarian government promotes health tourism, while rivals raise spa standards

 

The Hungarian government has agreed to provide a substantial sum for the development of health tourism in Hungary. Prime minister Viktor Orban signed a cooperation agreement with Laszlo Szűcs of the Medical Tourism Office, focused on dental tourism.

Dental tourism is crucial for Hungary's economy, generating 227million Euros in revenue each year Viktor Orban said, “Hungary is able to tap into its advantage in dental tourism and show Europe how it can get back on its feet”. Health tourism, especially spa and dental tourism, also receive special attention with the government planning support worth 117 million Euros. The state will finance the sector's development including market expansion, cost optimalisation, technical upgrade and incentives to keep dentists in Hungary and prevent their migration. The programme will aim at increasing dental services to foreigners two-fold in three years and three-fold in five years.

The government claims that Hungary's share of dental tourism in Europe is around 40 %, but with many EU rivals who have no accurate figures on dental tourism, that figure seems too high. Hungary needs promotion to keep its market lead ahead of fierce Polish, Turkish, Bulgarian and Czech competition.

To raise standards and attract more health tourists Serbia is drafting a new spa law. Vladan Vešković, of the Serbian Spas and Resorts Association says “The most important objectives of the new law are criteria regulation for spa certification and recertification, environment protection, as well as regulation for the use of the natural medicines. The implementation of a sustainable spa law will have a positive influence on the attitude of the relevant institutions in Serbia and encourage them to define spa tourism and promote it as a strategic tourist product of Serbia.”

Many spa centers in Bulgaria, especially in the capital city of Sofia, are housed in basements, garages and similar premises, which are rather unsuitable for relaxation. However, according to the newly passed amendments to the Tourism Act, managers of spa and relaxation centers will no longer be allowed to house their businesses in such inappropriate premises. Hissarya mayor Georgi Piryankov says, ‘Many spas in Bulgaria fail to meet the latest criteria regarding their clients’ relaxation and health recovery. The amendments require that all managers and owners of spa and wellness centers provide their clients with relaxation conditions corresponding to the certificates that they have obtained. In addition, hoteliers will be obliged to inform their guests if the water that their spa centers use is mineral or it comes from the tap.”

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