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The potential of medical and health tourism was presented in St. Petersburg

The St. Petersburg Expert Forum on Medical and Health Tourism was held at the ExpoForum on October 4-5. The participants presented a whole set of opportunities for Russian and foreign tourists and were the first in the world to conduct the unique event – the Medical Hub workshop.

The demand for medical tourism has been increasing both in Russia and abroad. St. Petersburg is the innovator and driver of this focal area development in Russia, the city was the first to fix the idea of “medical tourism” legislatively becoming one of the three cities of the world where this sector is supported by the state.

Experts from the relevant state and medical institutions presented at the Forum the complex of opportunities for Russian and foreign tourists – diagnostics, surgery and rehabilitation, one-day all-body check-up programs, complex examination, health improving, sanatorium and resort treatment.

The unique for the world medical sector event, the Medical Hub workshop, in which the leading doctors of St. Petersburg took part, was held for the first time on October 4. 9 St. Petersburg doctors specializing in oncology, cardiology, reproductive medicine, urology, plastic surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, transplantology, studied 140 clinical cases during 1.5 hours employing telemedicine technologies in real time and gave recommendations for patients and medical agents from various countries of the world.

“The Medical Hub is an opportunity to show the faces of St. Petersburg medical workers as well as send their opinions and recommendations to potential medical tourists in various countries,” says Evgeny Chernyshov, Chairman of the Association for Medical Tourism and Medical Services Export, member of the working group on medical tourism at the State Duma Committee on Tourism.

Representatives of medical agencies from all over Russia as well as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Germany, Turkey, France, Italy, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Kirghizia, Finland, UAE, Nigeria and some other countries familiarized themselves with the doctors’ recommendations.

As a result of the workshop, the agents said that they were ready to work with medical tourists from Russian regions and other countries of the world.

On October 5, the work of the Expert Forum expanded within the framework of the thematic sessions in which the leaders and experts from medical institutions, representatives of the authorities, foreign experts and partners took part.

The leading experts from the tourism and healthcare organization sector as well as doctors from St. Petersburg clinics assembled for the Synergy of Medicine and Tourism. Prospects and Opportunities session.

As Julia Kuzenskaya, Deputy Chairwoman of the St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development, underlined in the course of the session, “In case medicine and tourism are combined, they give the synergistic effect. What is interesting about medical tourism? On the average, such a tourist spends 10 times more than a common tourist, medical tourists stay in the city longer and can use all the presented opportunities. St. Petersburg is the birthplace of medicine, there are many highly qualified doctors here, a big number of clinics and health improving institutions, there is a complex of sanatoriums and resorts”.

According to her, medical tourism is a fairly new idea for Russia, however, it is one of the priorities of tourism development in St. Petersburg.

“Our medical sector is very powerful: the Committee supervises about 350 institutions, there are 50 federal centers, 130 private clinics. There is medical care to suit all tastes. Sanatorium and resort treatment is developed, there is a strong sanatorium and recreation area – a whole district in the north of the Gulf of Finland,” emphasizes Alexey Tereshin, Deputy Chairman of the St. Petersburg Health Committee.

St. Petersburg clinics maintain high standards of medical services at a comparably low cost. However, the developed St. Petersburg research and medical infrastructure allows to provide medical services at the highest level in three main areas: emergency high-tech medical care, medical rehabilitation, and recreation and sanatorium treatment.

Representatives of China, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and India took part in the Problems and Prospects of Exporting Medical Services to the BRICS, SCO and CIS States session. The international experts shared their experience in the medical tourism development abroad based on working with investors by demonstrating them the picture of the future, careful development of the business plan for the project with forecasts for the industry’s development.

The Tools for the Entry of St. Petersburg Medical Organizations into the Markets of the Near and Middle East session also focused on the international agenda. The participants discussed St. Petersburg capabilities as the leading destination for medical tourism.

The Vice-President of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ekaterina Lebedeva said that cooperation in the medical tourism sector was developing with many friendly countries, first of all CIS states. At the same time, there are great opportunities for conquering new markets.

Foreign market “players” shared their opinion on the development of Russian medical tourism abroad. According to the founder of the Turkish medical tourist company B2B Medical Encounters Mert Akokk, the main obstacle for the increase of the number of medical tourists from abroad to Russia is the visa issue.

Nigar Asadova heading the representative office of Turkish Clinics Florance Nightingale in Russia, thinks that one of the optimal tools for attracting tourists from the Middle East is development of the premium segment.

Amini Behrang, Director General of the Iraqi Agency for Medical Tourism R.K.P Company, said that he had already brought over 1,000 medical tourists from Iraq to Russia in 8 years. But this figure could be bigger with our country’s great scientific and technological potential in medicine.

The promotion of medical tourism in mass media was discussed at the press conference as a part of the Forum. The St. Petersburg Agency for Medical Tourism announced the specialized events program for the journalists: October 8–11 — Medical Tourism in St. Petersburg press tour to private medical organizations, October 11–14 — The Resorts of St. Petersburg where mass media will be demonstrated sanatoriums and resorts, October 15–18 — St. Petersburg Is the Health Area where non-medical health improving and recreational services will be presented (hotels, fitness complexes, spa).

The tourist industry in the Northern capital is developed according to the instructions by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and within the framework of the Tourism and the Hospitality Industry National Project which provides for the increase of the export of Russian tourist services up to US$ 22.3 billion and increase of the foreign tourism flow up to 16 million people, and the number of trips within Russia up to 140 million by 2030. Provisions are also made for the economic growth in Russia at the expense of the tourist industry’s multiplicativity.

The organizers of the event are the St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development and the St. Petersburg Agency for Medical Tourism.

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