NICOSIA The public and private sectors are joining forces to use European funds to further promote medical tourism to boost the teetering economy and tackle the age-old problem of seasonality.
The move is the initiative of the Cyprus Medical Association (CMA) which has formed an alliance with other interested parties.
Addressing a news conference yesterday to announce the cooperation, CMA president Andreas Demetriou said the aim is to ask the government to include medical tourism in its proposal for European funds for 2014-2020 which come to €850m-€900m.
“A meeting is planned with the Health and Commerce ministers on the issue and the funds that we will secure will be used to market and promote Cyprus as a year-round medical tourism destination, ” he added.
“We have reached the conclusion that tourism and medical tourism are important tools for riding out the economic crisis and the recovery of the Cyprus economy with multiple benefits like creating new jobs,” Demetriou told reporters.
The CMA chief explained that recent surveys have shown that 29% of the worldwide population requires health services during their holidays and 10% of EU patients look to undergo treatment in hospitals abroad.
Around €12b is spent by European and non-European patients travelling for medical reasons in the EU every year and Cyprus hopes to get a chunk of that market, Demetriou said.
He argued that Cyprus has the right infrastructure to attract medical tourists including modern and developed tourism projects, major public and private hospitals, highly qualified doctors and dentists, widespread use of the English language, patients’ safety and affordable prices.
Not to mention the excellent year-round climate being ideal for recuperation after a health problem.
CTO tourism director Anita Demetriadou said the prospects for developing medical tourism including photo-therapeutic tourism are major given Cyprus’ multiple advantages including its geographical position.
“Medical tourism is a major opportunity for Cyprus and our aim is its further development,” she told journalists.
The president of the Cyprus Private Hospitals’ Association Nicos Mantas said that private hospitals in Cyprus’ coastal areas enjoyed a flow of medical tourists for plastic surgery mainly from the UK.
And Cyprus was Britain’s second destination for that prior to the economic crisis.
“We must now give emphasis on the accreditation of our private hospitals and clinics by international organisations so that we can compete with other destinations, like Lebanon, Syria and China, which don’t have our standards,” Mantas told The Cyprus Daily.
“As far as everything else is concerned, including the infrastructure Cyprus is ready to go full speed ahead for more comprehensive medical tourism.”