For years in Greece, there have been discussions of the need to diversify the country’s tourism product with the main goal of reducing seasonality and achieving 12 months of tourism
In fact, with the new data brought by the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, the need to diversify and invest in the development of new forms of tourism becomes even more important and enters even higher in the discussion agenda, as the industry received a strong blow as a result of measures to reduce the pandemic internationally. For our country, where the tourism sector accounts for 20-25% of GDP, it is understood that the need to create the conditions for an increase in visitors of special interest is now imperative.
To this end, the tourism sector and the relevant bodies are promoting the development of various specific and alternative forms of tourism, including health tourism or medical tourism.
In addition to the benefits for patients themselves, the strengthening of medical tourism is a strategic choice, given that the health tourism sector has been booming globally in recent years, creating a market of more than 14 million people. tourists a year with obvious benefits for the economies of the countries investing in the development of this form of tourism. Furthermore, at the European Union level, Directive 2011/24/EU is practical support for the development of medical tourism, making the health systems of EU member countries open to all European citizens through the European Insurance Card.
But what is medical tourism and what is its significance for Greece? It is about the participation of tourists in medical care programs, which can include prevention, treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation of the patient’s health combining and rest, relaxation, fun. In other words, the choice of medical tourism as an individual sector of health tourism is addressed primarily to tourists – patients in need of medical surgery, as well as other specialized forms of treatment with medical care and medication, while at the secondary care level it is addressed to tourist patients who are provided with medical care and treatment in rehabilitation, rehabilitation and recovery units. During their stay at the destination, both the patients themselves and their companions can enjoy a number of other tourist activities.
In conclusion, medical tourism can be a solution to the seasonality of tourism, but also open new avenues for entrepreneurship in our country, and therefore coordinated efforts and synergies are needed for its further development and the creation of added value for the economy and society.
The In-MedTouR program as a catalyst for the development of medical tourism in Greece
In order to exploit the potential of medical tourism, Greece participates in the cross-border project “InnovativeMedicalTourismStrategy Innovative Medical Tourism Strategy – InMedTouR“ implemented within the framework of the European Territorial Cooperation Programme “Interreg V-A Greece-Italy 2014-2020” together with EOPYY, the University of Patras, the Brindisi Chamber of Commerce, and the Municipality of Santa Cesarea.
The main purpose of the In-MedTouR project, co-financed by the European Union (E.T.P.A.) and national resources of Greece and Italy, is to create a new tourism product, medical tourism, essentially creating a cluster of cooperation and access to innovative tools and best practices.
Recognizing the dynamics of medical tourism and its potential to contribute to the lengthening of the tourist season and the diversification of the Greek tourism product, the Ministry of Tourism has prioritized its development and organizes freeonlineworkshops in 5 cities with the aim of exchanging views. The workshops are scheduled for September and more specifically:
The In–MedTouR project was created to promote the implementation of a network for the exchange of know-how and to strengthen cooperation and interaction between target groups, including companies active in medical tourism, research, and technological institutions
In more detail, the project aims to:
Ensure the access of medical tourism businesses in the cross-border area to innovation actions
To create a unified cooperative formation to strengthen cooperation and networking between companies involved in medical tourism and Research & Development agencies.
Support Social Media in the field of medical tourism and Research & Development.
Strengthen investment in the research & development of medical tourism.
To capitalize on the strategic position of the cross-border region and high-level scientific staff in order to develop a new tourism business model.
Use new innovative technological tools to enhance the e-Platform of stakeholders and enhance the overall e-Tour Facilitator experience.