Are there opportunities for the Crimean sanatoria in the medical tourism market?
In a recent article by Ian Youngman, “The potential of potential powerhouse economies in medical tourism” the author states: “Russia and the CIS countries offer the biggest long-term market for medical tourism, but while they want a reasonable price, they also demand top quality care and service”.
Crimea is only a small area of the vast and transcontinental territory of Russian and the CIS which stretches from Japan to Germany. It is an area where people from the USSR traditionally had access to the warm sea and the moderate microclimate of Yalta, like no other on the Black Sea. The curative mud and brine treatments from the Lakes of Crimea are claimed to be effective in medical rehabilitation.
Crimea was discovered by the Romanov dynasty. It was the Russian Czars who built the first train line to a “no man’s land” to benefit from the curative treatments cure and to holiday there and who built the Crimea brand as a healing destination. It was subsequently discovered by the Russian intelligentsia who also received treatments while on holiday in Crimea. Over two centuries, Crimea was transformed by the building of Royal palaces that today host the sanatoria – in the country side within magnificent architectural buildings. Anton Chekhov built a sanatorium in Yalta where he treated patients. He was a doctor first and then the writer of the Cherry Orchard.
Subsequently, Vladimir Ilitch Lenin declared Evpatoria as the Soviet Union City for Child Rehabilitation and Treatment, and it is here where the shape of the Crimea was formed as we know it today. In an area the size of Sicily, 600 sanatoria were built to serve the needs of the entire Soviet Union.
Imagine the entire USA population wanting to go for treatment in Sicily. Treatment was paid for by the social security system. Almost all workers in the Soviet Union held a social security card that entitled them to treatment and holidays with their family. Today this system still partly finances the sanatoria in Crimea.
So, what does a sanatorium in Crimea offer today? What is its potential in the medical tourism market, both state-funded and private?
The medical tourism offering in a sanatorium in Crimea should be considered in the light of two factors. What diseases can be treated there, and what kind of patients have accounted for 98% of visitors to the Crimean sanatoria?
The range of disease and conditions that Crimean sanatoria treat very successfully today include orthopaedics, spinal cord injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, palsy, cardio-vascular and respiratory disorders and chronic diseases including post-cancer treatment and pain relief.
The Crimean sanatoria occupy huge areas of 4 to 18 hectares each, within natural parks with endemic flora. They incorporate five to ten six-storey buildings – hotels and medical facilities, shops, restaurants and cafes, cinemas and libraries, creating what we can call today “Integrated Medical Resorts” providing all-inclusive medical and leisure services.
The medical tourism product of Crimea today is medical rehabilitation – for chronic diseases and conditions, recovery from injury and post-operative recovery, provided in an all-inclusive package of four to eight medical treatments per day with three meals and accommodation for 60 US Dollars per person per day. This is where it starts to get interesting.
The medical tourism product of Crimea is not balneology for general spa and health recovery. I endorse Susie Ellis’ approach in separating spa and medical tourism. Clearly the main product offering in Crimea is medical rehabilitation. As they say “here we cure people; we do not just improve health”.