articles | 23 February 2021

Cyprus flagged as next European hub for medical tourism and rehabilitation programmes

Recognised as the best country in Europe for handling the pandemic, Cyprus is pinning its economic recovery on expanding medical tourism and becoming a European hub for patients rehabilitating from surgery and illness.

The Cyprus government has pegged medical tourism as one of the pillars of its strategic action plan for enhancing Cyprus tourism for the next decade to 2030 and is currently developing a new legal framework that will promote investment into new rehabilitation services on the island, a conference heard.

Speaking at 5th Cyprus International Investors Summit in Nicosia, hosted by Invest Cyprus, Polis Georgiades, CEO of Synlab Cyprus, a leading provider of laboratory diagnostic services, said Cyprus’ robust private health sector and internationally acclaimed medical research offered development potential to expand the medical and wellness sector to meet growing demand from European tourists. Before the travel restrictions, Cyprus was attracting interest as a wellness destination with several spa resorts and rural retreats.

He said: “We have had lots of requests from foreign companies and foreign investors around medical tourism. We already have the infrastructure and a high ratio of physicians and nurses so there is a lot of potential. What we need now is for rehabilitation services to be developed, providing the backbone to our national health system. The system works because it takes patients out of hospitals and I know that the government is developing the right legal framework for rehabilitation, which makes it a very good opportunity.”

The conference heard that Cyprus was in a position to offer high quality medical care at lower costs than other countries, and its strategic position made it attractive to ‘medical tourists’ seeking hospital treatment abroad.

Marinos Soteriou, founder of the American Medical Centre/American Heart Institute in Nicosia and a personal cardiologist to the President of Cyprus said: “There are plenty of areas, including cancer, cosmetic surgery which, combined with the hospitality sector and cutting-edge technology that can be introduced, is a magnet to bring in patients and transform the image of Cyprus as a healthcare destination. There is real growth potential in this area.”

Modern private hospitals and clinics, medical facilities with state-of-the art equipment and one of the highest ratios of doctors, surgeons and other medical staff in Europe – many of whom are trained in the UK or US - helped distinguish Cyprus as a popular health destination. Together with the roll-out of a new national health system last year and Cyprus’ longstanding reputation as a tourism destination, this evolution has boosted Cyprus’s efforts to encourage more investments in medical tourism, rehabilitation services and medical schools.

Mr Soteriou added: “Any investor who decides to build more capacity, more beds, can do that relatively easily. We also have the opportunity to attract talent from anywhere in the world because of the nice climate, easy lifestyle and safe environments, and even we can attract talent on a visiting basis.”

“In line with our Government’ s priorities, Invest Cyprus is working on elaborating a National Strategy to turn Cyprus into a leading tourism and hospitality investment destination.”, Chief Executive, George Campanellas said. “Towards this direction, we have launched a Project Bank inclusive of investment opportunities in key sectors showcasing the potential that exists into the development of rehabilitation centers, wellness centres considered integral to the future of new resorts or as additions to existing assets to enhance their value proposition. This is highlighted through our dedicated TourInvest Unit, to promote diversified tourism-related opportunities on the island.”, he added.

Last month, global Covid performance data from 98 nations put Cyprus as the highest ranked European country, outperformed only by top-placed New Zealand, Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand.  Data published by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute placed Britain and the US near the bottom of the index.  Cyprus was also ranked as the 21st healthiest country in the world, according to Bloomberg’s 2019 Healthiest Country Index.

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