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Saudi Arabia Looks to Greece for Medical Staff, Eyes Health Tourism Options

Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura with the president of Kingdom Holding Co, HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud.

Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura with the president of Kingdom Holding Co, HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud.

Tapping into the potential of medical tourism in Greece, and offering Greek medical professionals jobs in Saudi Arabia, topped the agenda of Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura’s meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Health Minister Mohammed Al Khoshaim, during her recent visit to Riyadh.

The two ministers discussed ways to attract Greek doctors for brief working stays to Saudi Arabia as the country is lacking medical staff. Mr Al Khoshaim proposed the launch of a database of Greek doctors interested in working abroad and added that his government was also keen on exchanging technical know-how and expertise in the area of drug, equipment and supply production as well as of medical staff training.

Mr Al Khoshaim also expressed interest in the health tourism options available in Greece, particularly with regard to plastic surgery, which he said many Saudi residents seek abroad.

Ms Kountoura, meanwhile, discussed the investment potential in Greece, particularly in the field of tourism with the president of Kingdom Holding Co, HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud.

The minister then met with local media to promote Greece as a prime tourism destination, and added that the recent direct flights from Riyadh to Athens will open the way for easier access to Greece.

Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura speaking to the local press in Riyadh.

Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura speaking to the local media in Riyadh.

B2B meeting at the 1st Greek Tourism Workshop in Riyadh.

B2B meeting at the 1st Greek Tourism Workshop in Riyadh.

In the meantime, over 127 of the country’s tour operators and agents attended the 1st Greek Tourism Workshop in Riyadh on April 19, which included over 375 B2B meetings with some of Greece’s leading hotel and tourism enterprises.

During the event, Mideast Travel owner and managing director Katerina Mousbe said that an estimated 800-900 tourists from Saudi Arabia with Schengen visas visited Greece last year. She added that with the current visa capabilities of the understaffed Greek embassy in Saudi Arabia, the number of Saudi tourists to Greece is expected to reach 15,000 annually, although the prospects are much higher.

According to Greek Embassy figures, 7,000 visas from Saudi Arabia to Greece were issued in 2014.

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