What is holding back medical travel to Greece?

 

Greece could gain revenues of millions of euros per year and welcome hundreds of new jobs if the country taps into the markets of health tourism and senior tourism, according to a new study released by diaNEOsis.

Elderly tourism and health tourism: lost opportunities’ says that if certain measures and initiatives are taken by the Greek government and businesses, the medical, health and senior tourism markets could add €13.6 billion to the country’s GDP and 173,000 new jobs over a five-year period.

Key medical and wellness tourism challenges

The article points out that in Greek hospitals, infections are more common than elsewhere, and Greece has very high rates of microbial resistance. Although Greece has many doctors, there are not have enough nurses.

The obstacles to investment in residential complexes (bureaucracy, planning regulations) are also great. There are few large companies with large investment experience and there is very high taxation.

In addition, only 6.1% of Greek hotels (exclusively 4- or 5-star hotels) are able to offer some form of elementary medical care within their premises. Only 25.2% of the hotels have taken extra care to serve the elderly with special equipment plus those required by law.

The article states that in Greece, there are 822 sources of thermo-mineral waters, of which 750 are useful in relation to their thermal properties. However only 123 have filed with the Ministry of Tourism and only 48 received acknowledgment. Few of them have modern facilities that offer modern services.

Legislation still needs implementing

The study points out that there was a joint ministerial decision in 2013 formulating the institutional framework for medical tourism (JMD 27217/2013), which provides for compulsory certification of medical providers in accordance with international standards, compulsory insurance of units and doctors for professional matters, responsibility, the establishment and maintenance of a register of medical tourism providers and the granting by the EOT of a distinct medical tourism label.

Since 2013, however, the circulars still need to be implemented and are still pending. The operational licensing process for tourism businesses remains problematic.

About the study

DiaNEOsis collaborated with the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine and a team of researchers under the coordination of Social and Preventive Medicine Professor EKPA Yiannis Tountas to study the development of third-party tourism and the prospects for health tourism in Greece.  The survey analyses the specific characteristics and subcategories of these sectors, examines how other countries invest in attracting older and sick tourists, maps what applies in Greece, and determines how much the Greek economy could gain if the country developed the  infrastructure and reformed its institutional framework to claim a share of that market.

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