Hesse: Medical tourism after Corona: Industry is looking for ways out of the crisis

The business of Hessian clinics with medical tourists almost came to a standstill during Corona.

Hesse: Medical tourism after Corona: Industry is looking for ways out of the crisis

The business of Hessian clinics with medical tourists almost came to a standstill during Corona. And the war in Ukraine is also having an impact. The industry is now looking for ways out of the crisis.

Frankfurt (dpa/lhe) - A trip to Hesse can have many reasons: a business appointment, a trip, but also medical treatment. The Frankfurt region in particular is in demand with patients from abroad. But Corona and the war in Ukraine have severely affected medical tourism. The industry is now looking for ways out of the crisis.

"There are certainly many good reasons to visit Frankfurt, medicine is one of them," said Plamen Staikov, medical director at Sachsenhausen Hospital on Monday. The business was almost brought to a standstill with an emergency stop. Effects would still be felt, even if the trend was positive. In his clinic there are currently around ten inquiries per week from abroad, which is roughly the pre-corona level. In his opinion, however, the administrative and bureaucratic hurdles are often problematic.

"The demand from foreign visitors for both tourist and medical offers has fallen sharply in the past two years," explained Thomas Feda, Managing Director of Frankfurter Tourismus Congress GmbH. In order to significantly improve the situation again, however, a lot of staying power is needed. "The medical tourism market was difficult and highly competitive even before the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. That hasn't changed. On the contrary!" Staikov also said.

In order to discuss the current situation and find ways out of the crisis, various experts came together in Frankfurt on Monday for a specialist conference. One goal is that new source markets have to be developed. "The Russian market is practically dead for many reasons," said Holger Reuter, Managing Director of Klinik Dr. Big as a tree in Bad Homburg. Compensation is urgently needed for this. According to the Hamburg health expert Anderas Keck, the African market could be interesting, especially patients from Nigeria.

"We try to pick up our target groups at different levels," said Almut Boller, Managing Director of the Hessian Spa Association. It is also clear that the possibilities of digitization must be used. According to their information, there are around 30 spas in Hesse.

According to a brief overview by the Bundestag, so-called medical tourism is a targeted trip abroad for medical treatment. It's an important business for the industry. Economist Mariam Asefi from the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences assumes that, based on the 2018 data, foreign patients brought German hospitals around 1.2 billion euros in additional income annually. In terms of medical tourism, Hessen ranked fifth in Germany in 2018. In addition to the Frankfurt region, she sees important locations in Marburg and Wiesbaden, for example.

Corona also had massive effects in other major German cities: In the Berlin Vivantes clinics, the number of so-called medical tourists recently fell so much that the state-owned hospital group closed its central department for international patients at the end of March. At the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich clinic, international business “largely came to a standstill” in the two-year pandemic, a spokeswoman recently explained.

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