Romania seeks international investors for health tourism projects


Romania aims to develop health and wellness tourism. The problem is that the government is short of cash and there are not enough big investors in the country willing to part with substantial sums and wait a long time for a return.

So when President Traian Basescu travels to other countries, he takes the opportunity to promote the benefits of Romanian health tourism and seek private investors. He does have an unusual style.

His latest attempt was in Turkey where he openly asked Turkish businessmen at a Turkish-Romanian business forum to invest in Romanian balneal tourism, “Tourism is a field in which major investments can be made, but maybe it is not the best signal to tell Turkish investors to come and invest in our tourism when in Turkey there is a boom of investments in tourism. So I ask you to do something you cannot do in Turkey: invest in balneal tourism. Romania has excellent natural conditions, resources for balneal tourism. In Romania, health springs from the earth. We have waters with out-of-the-ordinary therapeutic qualities and you may remember Romania's capacity when it comes to treating third age ladies, the famous geriatric programmes. We have an extraordinary potential. Investments in balneal tourism ensure a guaranteed profit. I am inviting you to invest here as investing here is guaranteed profitability as there is no seasonal problem with health tourism. The natural resources we have make it possible to exploit such health programmes both in summer and in winter.”

Basescu continued by also asking them to invest in infrastructure, in energy, and in the food industry, as all are priorities for development.

To ensure he covered all possibilities, the President concluded by seeking investment in healthcare, hospitals and clinics, “Romania is extremely interested in private investments in health. The country has major drawbacks here and investments in health are welcome.”
Romania has been trying for years to undertake a profound reform of its health system, which is in very poor condition. This has been postponed several times. New draft legislation was prepared but has not yet been adopted. Part of the problem is endemic corruption. Many doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. The lack of investment, high level of bureaucracy, lack of income and the underdeveloped private system are the main issues behind the current dire situation of the national health system.

During 2013 the Romanian government and the IMF were at loggerheads. With the IMF encouraging the Romanian government to rethink its plans to scrap the financing of private hospitals. The IMF, which gives loans and aid to the country, opposed these measures, as spending on private healthcare only amounts to 2.7% of the total healthcare budget .The almost broke government decided that private hospitals would no longer receive funding from the National Health Insurance Fund.

Whether Romania will succeed in getting investors is an interesting question. Potential investors will worry that the former Communist state is still very much a centrally controlled country that has many problems. But there are now few EU countries that offer the chance to develop private healthcare, plus health and wellness tourism facilities from an almost clean slate.



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