Medical tourism in the broad sense is one of three sectors – alongside health tourism and spa and wellness tourism. Medical tourism is also a part of national, international and domestic tourism. It is important that medical tourism is not only considered in terms of international tourism arrivals and departures, but also in terms of domestic tourism which is often overlooked in the analysis of the market sector.
Medical tourism is a conscious activity, in which a traveller (a medical tourist) aims to receive health care services – in his or her own country or abroad – to preserve (or acquire) a better health condition, and/or aesthetic appearance of his or her own body, sometimes combined with relaxation, regeneration of physical and mental strength, sightseeing and entertainment.
The global market for medical tourism is growing; it is estimated that in Poland in 2011, 300, 000 foreign patient visitors spent around 200 million Euros on a variety of medical tourism services.
Adopted as a national strategy
Medical tourism was included in the "Strategy for tourism development in Poland in 2007-2013", as a tourism product with high competitiveness and is a priority for expansion. Health tourism is one of the fifteen industries that are supported by the Ministry of Economy, under the "Branch promotion programs" within the Innovative Economy Operational Programme. The activities will be directed towards promoting the whole industry (a budget of 1 million Euros), as well as direct support for businesses involved in various activities under the concept (a total pool of 36.5 million Euros).
Polish health care facilities have qualified, specialist medical staff and offer a wide range of medical services (attractive in terms of quality and product price). Tourists enjoy not only the services within plastic and cosmetic surgery, but also visit for health and wellness purposes, general diagnostics, eye surgery and dental treatments. There are also controversial areas of medical tourism that are developing: surrogacy and illegal abortion tourism.