Renewed efforts to promote Cyprus medical tourism

 

There have been several initiatives to promote medical tourism to Cyprus but these have met with mixed success.

Back in 2013, the Cyprus Tourism Organization and Cyprus Medical Association joined forces in order to promote the island as a medical tourist destination. 2017 sees a renewed attempt to promote Cyprus for medical and health tourism.

Paphos is tipped to be the site of a medical tourism scheme in a collaboration being spearheaded by The Paphos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (EVE) with the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC).

Stakeholders from tourism, medical and business fields from Paphos and Israel are discussing how to establish a framework for developing this potentially lucrative form of tourism that, in spite of previous efforts, has failed to really take off in Cyprus.

Andreas Demetriades of EVE says, “Paphos has a number of private clinics and we plan to run a pilot in the district that would then roll out across the island. Cyprus has been trying to position itself on the medical tourism map for years but the drive has failed, owing to a lack of national policy. There are no incentives for private clinics. The Ministry of Health, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) and other stakeholders have to meet to identify and overcome stumbling blocks to Cyprus becoming a destination."

The proposed medical tourism collaboration comes after Paphos has been strengthening commercial relations with Israel with an increase in flights, town twinning with Herzliya and plans for cooperation.

Promoters of the Cyprus/Israel partnership indicate that they want to access the potential market from Arab states with patients travelling abroad for specialist medical treatments. The logic is that Arabs are not prepared to go to Israel, but a partnership could allow Arabs to go to Cyprus to clinics where Israeli investors and the medical profession would pour capital and expertise into Cyprus medical tourism.

The logic continues with the idea being that “A patient from the Arab market would not likely go to Israel for medical treatment, but would be treated under an Israeli doctor if they were practising in Cyprus,” says Andreas Demetriades. Israeli doctors would travel to Paphos to work for part of the week, during which they would train local colleagues to upgrade skills in specialist procedures.

The partnership accepts that Cyprus is lacking the necessary medical expertise. The Ministry of Health has a list of procedures for which local patients travel to Israel every year because they are not available locally.

There are significant barriers to overcome. The health ministry has strict rules on foreign doctors working in Cyprus. Local clinics need substantial investment.  Arab visitors tend not to go to Cyprus on holiday.

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