“Health Tourism: Engine of the National Economy’s Growth &Turning Greece into a top touristic destination all year round"
“Health Tourism Meets its Ithaca”
Ithaca, Ionian Islands, Greece, May 2017
Conference Conclusions and Key Points
May 31, 2017
The essential steps for the launching and further development of the Health Tourism industry in Greece, by the aim of turning the country and the Greek islands to a top Health, Wellness and Medical Travel Destination worldwide, have been presented at the special thematic conference held at the end of May in Ithaca, Ionian island.
Ithaca, the island of Ulises, legendary king and hero of Homer’s epic poem Odyssey, nowadays popular to sailing and international travelers, has been chosen to host the first in Greece Health Travel Conference, symbolically, to remind the persistence to the vision of Greece’s distinguished scientific personalities worldwide to make Greece the Home of Health for the travelers of the world, and also to signify the “nostos” of Greece’s doctors around the globe for their home country, Greece, that first in history gave birth to the Science of Health and Medicine, as well as to Medical tourism since antiquity .
“Health Tourism Meets its Ithaca”, George Patoulis, Head of Health Tourism In Greece Initiative, said, while presenting at the conference the World Institute of Greek Doctors that aims to promote the universality of Greek medical science and reunify the Greek medical scientific community in Greece and abroad through the international networking of the Greek doctors who are active in the world
George Patoulis, President of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece, President of Athens Medical Association, and President of the World Institute of Greek Doctors, announced also during the conference the International Health Tourism Center of Greece, created to become the Ambassador of Greece's Health and Medical Tourism, by the support of Local Government in a leading role
"In recent years, our country has become an ideal destination for health and medical tourists as a result of the modernization of tourism infrastructure, the high-level hotel units and travel accommodation, and also medispa units, but also, due to the internationally renowned medical and nursing staff, wellness professionals and antiaging experts, which offer the Health traveler the ideal combination of the perfect bioclimatic environment by the choice of a variety of top scientific medical programs, treatments and therapies, along with wellness programs, in mainland Greece and the Greek islands “.
George Patoulis emphasized in his speech that the strengthening of Health Tourism sector, which still needs to pay more emphasis on the island Greece, will empower Greece’s image and make the country a pole of attraction for wellness and medical travelers, but also for the international and European medical stuff, and obviously to investors, by offering, as a top Health Travel Destination, the unique, fertile conditions in a “healing” place as Greece is, the chance to create a New Market , while boosting national economy, and creating new jobs.
“Watching the efforts of so many significant actors of Greece’s medical community, and the country’s institutions Im truly convinced that your visions will be welcomed and your goals will be reached for the development of the Travel health services in our country, said, concluding his speech on «Medical Tourism at the Greek Islands», ship owner Athanasios Martinos , founder of the Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Ltd.
Athanasios Martinos underlined that apart of the two essential advantages of Greece on Health and Medical Tourism markets worldwide, the country’s top medical quality, in combination with the ideal climatic, geophysical factor, there is a third advantage that is important, the country’s geographical position, close to the Arabic world.
The Greek ship owner, who has been honored this year by the Hellenic Institute for Marine Technology (ELINT) top award for his major contributions to the global shipping sector and charity, mentioned the recent investment on Astir Palace Vouliagmeni in Attica, of the Abu Dhabi and Kuwait Sovereign Funds, which already started building up the “Athens Riviera”, a super luxury resort around the Saronicos gulf, for the Arabic rich world, who would be open to discuss for more new investments and funds, the ship owner said “The renovation of the closest to the Astir Area, Hospital, the Asclipieion Hospital in Voula, Athanasios Martinos stressed, is a top priority, which is covered so far by private charities, he added.
Ship owner Martinos suggested that the Greek islands and the regional Greece should be primarily supported by the creation of new, and the upgration of existing small Health centers, as to provide to Greece the chance to become the “European Florida”, as he said. He also stressed the importance to urgently upgrade the Health units and hospitals, wherever in Greece and the islands, where international airports are close.
These priorities, A.Martinos said, would allow the “mild development” that, especially island Greece, needs to become the top Health Tourism destination in the international markets.
The presentations of Greek scientists at the conference emerged the top scientific level of medical treatments, therapies and medical procedures that make destination Greece for Medical Tourism attractive, and often much more affordable than undergoing the same therapies at the travelers home country
From the point of his medical specialty the gynecologists that has thrived in international success and has made the dream come true for hundreds of couples around the world making headlines globally with multiple breakthroughs, dr Konstantinos Pantos, an achiever in Greece’s Medical Tourism already, described in his presentation the proposals for the further development of Medical Tourism in Greece, that should include,
(in the context of the National Medical Assistance Reproduction Authority sources and the relevant Ministry of Tourism laws on the operation of IVF Units):
- Partnerships to support the choice of couples to try Greece for their case, by offering follow up medical assistance on the patient’s home country after the therapy, with a network of accredited doctors, many of could could be Greek doctors of the diaspora , in every corner of the world .
- The certification of units intending to become providers of medical tourism.
- The launching of packages concerning transportation, accommodation, the rest of the metical tourist’s vacation programs and tours, and the accreditation of medical practices.
- Informing adequately and responsively and raising public awareness, in Greece and on globe, the choices and opportunities offered by medical tourism.
The Greek physician abroad, K.Pantos added, must be aware of the provision of health services that is at least comparable to the country he lives, the achievements of Greek doctors in Greece, the certification systems, and that great innovations in clinical and laboratory medicine are still a reality today in our country, against all hardships.
Dr. Pantos’ innovative scientific methods have been listed twice among four breakthroughs , in the History of IVF since 1978 in www.IVF-Worldwide.com Recently he gained worldwide attention by his scientific announcement for the PRP method, for “reversing menopause and restoring the woman’s fertility by the woman’s own blood, even years after last menstruation, for reproductive but also rejuvenating reasons, as the international media wrote .
Every day Konstantinos Pantos talks from his clinic in Athens via Skye, he explained, with couples that have heard for his successful methods and results in their country , from all the continents of the globe, America, Canada, South America, Russia, China, Australia , even Mongolia.
Greece must aim at creating a brand name for Health and Medical Tourism in order to enter international competition, Konstantinos Pantos said, who is also the vise-president in the World Institute of Greek Doctors, adding also that the State should have already set up a national strategic plan.
Nikolaos S. Kouvelas, Ass. Professor of Dentistry in the University of Athens, Founder & President of EURODENTICA and President of the Athens Dental Tourism Cluster, which has already launched, successfully, to international markets, high quality and much affordable medical treatments by the Cluster’s dentistrys in Greece, described in his speech
“High quality Dentistry in Medical Tourism”, the model under which the recently launched Athens Dental Tourism Cluster is functioning, that requires:
- A network of cooperation with tourism enterprises (air travel, and airlines, hotels, tourist agencies, rent a car , restaurants, etc)
- Organizing and preparing the required legal contracts through mediators for the inflow of international patients
- The publishing of results of dental indicators and prior assessment of the indicators
- The set up of an international network of dentists abroad for the follow up of the treatments of the foreign patients in their hometown.
The President of Athens Dental Cluster and of Eurodentica, who has gained by EURODENTICA dental clinic multiple international distinctions and awards for the level of scientific services to patients, as is the “International Dental Clinic of the Year” by the Medical Tourism IMTJ Award nomination in 2016, and also the German Organization TEMOS and the International DIPLOMATIC COUNCIL awards, that classified the clinic among the best 150 Dental Clinics worldwide (Best Hospitals Worldwide 2014 & 2015), showed in his presentation to advantages for the foreign patient of dental services in Greece compared to the USA status and current difficulties for the dental patient:
- The specialized dentists are still rare close to the patient’s residence
- The cost is high
- Dental clinics are unable to provide immediate service
- Long distances between different dentist’s specialty clinics
Athens Dental Tourism Cluster
- Exclusively specialized Greek dentists in the USA and Europe by accredited programs
- Dental care evaluation and treatment of the patients by different specialties’ dental doctors in one visit, in the clinic’s location only
- Immediate appointment and completion of the therapy scheme in minimum time and days, by sedation if required, and the presence of anesthesiologist
- Cost of therapy 50-60%lower than in the USA and European countries
Konstantinos Kouskoukis, Professor of Dermatology – Legal Scientist, and President of the Greek Academy for Thermal Medicine, Scientific Adviser also to the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities in Greece, an Alternative Approach to Classical Medicine expert of Greece, speaking on the contribution of Wellness Tourism to Health Tourism in Greece reminded that this finds its origins in this country, noting that nowadays Wellness and alternative treatments are complementary regimens for physicians helping to prevent plenty of health problems when combined with healthy lifestyle.
Presenting the Spa tourism in Greece - Thermo – MediSpa Medical Medicine professor Kouskoukis stressed that Alternative Medicine in Greece is scientifically established with the participation of reputable and internationally recognized Greek doctors of most specialties, while in his speech unfolded the high value of Greece’s thermal springs, many of them used since antiquity for therapeutic purposes in Greece.
Greece comes first in Europe in quality and uniqueness of its natural healing resources, by 750 thermal springs, of which 82 are activated but only 38, still, are officially recognized for therapeutic indications and by the full list of contraindications.
Greece has also unlimited growth potential on creating prototype thalassotherapy centers due to the country’s vast coastline, professor Kouskoukis said, presenting also the modern thalassotherapy therapies of Greece, attractive to foreign travelers in combination with the bioclimatic Greece;s advantage, Relaxation vacation programs and antiaging scientific designed programs which also gain travlers’ demand.
For the most therapeutic applications of healing medicine, where thermal, MediSpa tourism is recommended, often, to the European insured travelers as complementary therapy prescription, the President of the Greek Academy for Thermal Medicine, and Scientific Adviser on Health Tourism to the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece, said they concern travelers with conditions such as:
- In diseases: musculoskeletal, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, haematopoietic, gastrointestinal, urological and endocrinological system
- In diseases: dermatological, gynecological, allergic, otorhinolaryngological and periodontal
- Medispa programs should be run In cooperation with assisted reproduction clinics, rehabilitation and hemodialysis centers
Presenting Hydrotherapy as Complementary Medicine in pregnancy and gynecological diseases, Giorgos Kreatsas, Professor of Obstetrics– Gynecology in the University of Athens described in his speech “Hydrotherapy. Prevention of maternity & gynecological problems”, the positive results of hydrotherapy in clinical practice, applied by the University clinic in Aretaieion, Athens, the professor has run for decades.
Professor Kreatsas, with multiple scientific publications and research in Gynecology, stressed the need for more research to be motivated and supported by the clinical and academic laboratories of Greece, that serves as the best bioclimatic geophysical source especially for water therapy programs.
Concerning the coming steps for the development of Health Tourism and the creation of the International Health Tourism Center, the international body of the local government for the Promotion and Development of Health and Medical Tourism in Greece, the Head of the visionary initiative, Geroge Patoulis, President of the World Institute of Greek Doctors, President of the Athens Medical Association and President of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece,
pointed out that the aim from now is to record the existing infrastructure and indicate which shortcomings should be addressed locally, so that the benefits of the development of Health Tourism be shared, not only to the locations and cities that currently have the infrastructure to support medical tourism, but across the country and the islands..
"Health tourism will be one of the most important pillars of the Greek economy for the coming decade," he said , and stressed the importance of the contribution of Greek entrepreneurship, as to enhance Greece's extroversion and attract new investments in areas with high added value ". George Patoulis emphasized the importance of cooperation of all stakeholders of the country’s Public and Private Sector, relevant to Health and Medical Tourism, and guaranteed the activation and support of the National Union of Municipalities of Greece, for the further development and success of the project on national level.
The Conference was welcomed by the speeches of
the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy P.Kourouplis,
the President of PASOK and Head of the Democratic Compatriacy Fofi Genimata, the Mayor of Ithaca island D. Stanitsas,
the Eminent Metropolitan of Lefkada Spyros Galiatsatos, Deputy Governor of the Ionian Islands, Mayor of Kefallonia Al. Parasis, Emmanouil Konsolas Domenical of ND Tourism, Aphrodite Theoptetto, Member of the Prefecture of Kefalonia & Ithaca, Christina Starakas Vice-Governor of Western Greece, Giorgos Tzillas General Secretary for Tourism Policy and Development, Florian Bodog, Minister of Health of Romania and Nicolae Banicioiu, Former Minister of Health Romania.
For further information on the speakers’ presentations or contacts, please call
George Patoulis Office ,
Municipality of Amarousion,
Secretariat Tel. 2132038326