Greece can become an international destination for medical tourism in the coming years, Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni underlined while speaking at the “Medical Tourism in Practice – Thessaloniki” conference, held in the Greek northern city on Thursday, 4 December.
Referring to Thessaloniki in particular, Mrs. Kefalogianni said the city has all the qualities to become a medical tourism “pilot destination” as it features an international airport, excellent infrastructure in public and private hospitals, specialized medical centers and experienced and highly qualified medical and scientific staff.
More into her speech, the tourism minister informed the audience that the institutional framework for Greece to showcase medical tourism had been recently established in cooperation with the health ministry.
“The aim is to provide high quality medical tourism services,” she said.
According to a joint decision of the tourism and health ministries, medical providers must be certified in accordance to international medical tourism certification standards while units and doctors must be insured for professional liability issues.
“Certification inspires confidence for the safety and the quality of services and it also reduces the ‘fear of the unknown’ felt by an international patient during his trip,” Mrs. Kefalogianni said.
Benefits expected to result from the development of medical tourism in Greece include the gain of extra revenue for the Greek economy, modernization of the health sector, extension of the tourism season, development of city break tourism and creation of jobs.
Hotel Chamber: Greece is entering the medical tourism market with honors
The hotel chamber was one of the first tourism bodies that highlighted the value and potential of medical tourism for Greece and funded a study that was presented two years ago.
Mr. Tsakiris said Greece’s hospital infrastructure and sufficient medical resources combined with the country’s climate and hotels, can put together a highly competitive medical tourism product.
“The adaptation of infrastructure (in Greece) to meet the international standards and requirements of medical tourism over the last two years has been impressive,” the chamber’s president said.
Mr. Tsakiris informed that many Greek hospitals have internationally recognized certifications and many companies that market medical tourism have joined forces with tourism professionals.
“It is now an undeniable fact that Greece, although late, is entering the medical tourism market with honors,” he concluded.