Cyprus is capitalizing on its well-established tourism infrastructure to stake a claim for itself as one of Europe’s premier medical tourism destinations.
“I believe Cyprus can become a really important hub for medical tourism thanks to our welcoming culture, great weather and educated talent pool.”
Christoforos Hadjikyprianou, CEO of European University Cyprus
Blessed with a favourable climate and many beautiful beaches, Cyprus has long stood as a popular destination for holidaymakers from Northern Europe and beyond. Indeed, travel and tourism are cornerstones of the island nation’s economy, contributing EUR 3.8 million (USD 4.3 million) or 21.4 percent of the entire national GDP in 2016 according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. This contribution is forecast to rise by 3.4 percent per annum to EUR 5.6 million (USD 6.2 million), or 26.6 percent of GDP by 2027. This is a bonus to the local pharmaceutical industry. Vakis Frangos of Delorbis notes that, “Cyprus welcomes more than three million tourists per year who will need medicines while on holiday.” Cyprus is in position to welcome more and more tourists travelling to the island specifically for medical attention. As Christoforos Hadjikyprianou, CEO of European University Cyprus, declares, “I believe Cyprus can become a really important hub for medical tourism thanks to our welcoming culture, great weather and educated talent pool.”
Recognizing the significant opportunity that medical tourism represented, in 2006 the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry took the initiative to form the Cyprus Health Services Promotion Board with the principal aim of accommodating stakeholders across the private health industry and founding a cluster that would have at its core—an intention to promote the island’s healthcare capabilities. Polis Peratikos, the organization’s executive secretary, points out that “health tourism is crucial for the island’s success, as with every other special interest segment of tourism. We are trying to enlarge the touristic period in Cyprus because currently, we are only busy from April to October. We need to extend that period across the year.”
In terms of the key therapeutic areas being served, Peratikos notes that “there has been an increase in the number of tourists coming to Cyprus for health purposes in general, but mainly for the areas of dental care, IVF, and cosmetic surgery.” The majority of those seeking medical treatment on the island “are from Russia and the UK because these have been the countries most promoted to in the past five years,” articulates Peratikos.
Looking to the future, Cyprus aims to up its game and offer more comprehensive healthcare packages for international patients; capitalizing on its well-developed traditional tourism infrastructure. Peratikos pronounces, “we seek to create complete packages for the medical tourism industry. The entire package would include the whole journey of the patient, from arrival at the airport, transfers, accommodation, equipment, rehabilitation, return travel and follow-up.” He continues, “Concerning new projects for the Health Promotion Board, we have several big ideas that await government approval—they centre around healthcare villages. ‘Healthcare villages’ is the term we use to describe locations that will accommodate hospitals, cooperation and rehabilitation centres, hotels and spas.”