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Tenerife aims to position itself as a destination for medical tourism in Europe 

PAGE 37 ARTEDENTAL

On September 3rd, the National Statistics Institute of Spain (INE) published the data of foreign tourists who visited the country in the month of July.

That month, visits had dropped by 5.6 per cent in the Canary Islands compared to the same month of 2017.

This reduction was expected in the sector. First, the recovery of tourist destinations in North Africa, such as Tunisia or Egypt; and secondly, because Spain is betting on higher quality tourism, with higher spending but fewer visitors, according to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto.

However, hoteliers know that this is not good news. And even more so in a place where tourism occupies its greatest source of income.

This decrease is the worst recorded since 2010, when the ashes of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjalla paralysed air traffic.

The Canary Islands, one of the main holiday destinations in Europe, has been working for a long time to give a twist to the tourism concept and one of the bets over the last few years has been medical tourism.

It would be something like returning to the origins as it was in the XIX century when the islands began to receive British visitors of the upper class who came to treat respiratory or rheumatic diseases, attracted by the climate of the islands, the sea and its effects on health.

Hence the first sanatorium hotels in the Canary Islands. The first, in Puerto de la Cruz. In the 20th century, sun and beach tourism has already been established, developing into today’s current mass model.

The new model chooses to combine the first category of sanitary facilities with the facilities in tourist infrastructures that the Canary Islands already have.

As cited by the Minister of Tourism in 2006, Alberto Bernabé, on Tenerife, “its two international airports with some 200 direct connections to cities on the Peninsula, Europe and the world, or a cruise port that receives more than half a million passengers at year, are some of the arguments that provide great strength as a medical tourism destination, “as well as” one of the most complete four and five star hotel facilities in Europe “.

WhatClinic, one of the best-known international clinical search engines and based in Ireland, includes specialties such as cosmetic surgery, dentistry, physiotherapy and fertility among the most sought after.

Precisely on this page you can find the services of Artedental clinic, of Puerto de la Cruz, whose specialty is dental implants. The centre, whose business volume is mainly focused on foreign patients, understands that there are some basic elements that any clinic should offer a patient from the United Kingdom or Germany: First class facilities, state-of-the-art technology and a polyglot team able to understand perfectly the needs of a patient who leaves his country of origin to be treated in a foreign destination.

In addition, they know that the price plays an important role. More than 60 per cent of those who seek to be treated outside do so for an economic issue, because these treatments can cost half or even a third of their original countries.

“If we add this to the fact that we are located in one of the areas with the greatest vacation demand in the islands, Puerto de la Cruz, the combination of dental treatment and rest breaks becomes a winning formula in health tourism,” explains Amaya Sáez, manager of Artedental.

The medical tourism bill in Spain amounts to about 500 million euros a year and the archipelago is positioned as second place destination of medical tourism, according to SpainCares, the public platform created by the Government to promote this model.

With regard to the origin of visitors to the islands, the latest data from the INE does not offer surprises. The main tourists came from the United Kingdom, with 39 per cent of the total; followed by the Germans, with 20.7 per cent of the total. Hence, medical tourism focuses on these two countries, although France and Russia are also in the focus of this new commitment.