Despite the current difficult economic situation in most developed countries many incoming tour operators in the Czech Republic offering niche travel products have recorded moderate growth in terms of both tourism arrivals and revenue. The latest statistics however show significant changes in the source countries of travelers visiting Central and Eastern Europe.

Since 2007 the local spas have been recording a growing demand from customers in Middle Eastern countries. Today, two thirds of foreign guests in Czech spas are patients from UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Although the growing numbers of guests from the Middle East or North African regions are the trend of only few last years, the local health service providers are well aware of specific aspects related to this type of clients.

People from the ME&NA region often require more sophisticated services, such as special diets or more intensive treatment programmes. However, they mostly stay longer than other foreign guests, take their whole families with them, and also spend more money.

A recent survey carried out in UAE by the international research organization YouGov for National newspaper, revealed that over 70% of UAE residents would seek treatment abroad, if they fall seriously ill. Based on the reactions of the respondents the researchers stated that despite all the modern diagnostic equipment and up-to-date facilities in the country, the overall health care services do not meet the patients’ expectations. Therefore they look to other destinations offering quality healthcare with favorable prices.

As a result the Central European incoming tour operators of both leisure and medical segments have started discovering the new business opportunities in the Middle East and North African countries and began marketing their products in the region. Although many providers and regional boards from the Central Europe fail to promote their destinations and services efficiently countries like Hungary, Slovakia or the Czech Republic remain attractive destinations for travellers from the ME&NA countries.