Greece: a healing destination

Greece: a healing destination

Worldwide the issue of wellness has taken on a new dimension. The recent pandemic fueled an already growing international awareness about the need for healthy lifestyles and healthy diets. This is evident from the rising popularity of the Mediterranean Diet around the world, to the rising popularity of practices like yoga or meditation.

The health benefits of the Greek cuisine were reflected in the strong, steady increase, year after year in Greek food exports -- but which accelerated during the years of the pandemic. Now that the pandemic is over, Greece’s reputation as a great place to unwind – as a ‘healing’ destination, if you will – made the country one of the world’s top tourist destinations last year following two years of lockdowns.

Also, there is a long tradition in health and wellbeing practices. The ancient Greeks saw man as an indivisible ‘whole’, meaning, the soul, mind and body all interacted with one another. And some of the plant and herbal remedies of ancient Greece survive until this day.

From a business and investment perspective, health and wellness must be seen as a complete ecosystem comprising of many interrelated parts. These include the life sciences industry and healthcare services. But also: medical tourism, physical therapy, thermal springs, diet and nutrition, sports, and recreation. And, considering the growing needs of the Silver Economy, health and wellness can also include retirement destinations, support services and leisure activities for the elderly.

Greece has enormous potential in each of these areas. And the government is pursuing policies that are starting to bear results.

In the life sciences sector, the government has developed a strategy to further promote the pharmaceutical industry. And it recently approved a state-sponsored program that will lead to more than €500 million being invested in the sector.

Likewise, under Greece’s national recovery and resilience program , there are a series of new initiatives to develop Greece’s tourism sector by offering new products including, specifically, health & wellness tourism.

Recently, the government also took steps to attract retirees, orienting the country towards Europe’s €4 trillion silver economy. There is now a favorable tax regime for pensioners who seek to establish a second home in Greece and, already, several hundred have responded.

After several years of effort, the government is starting the process of revitalizing the country’s thermal spas by drawing fresh investment to the facilities. Since ancient times, Greece has been known for its natural springs and the spas connected to these springs. Greece has more than 800 such springs, which have varied healing properties in their waters. Some have already been upgraded, like Edipsos, which reopened this summer. A few weeks ago, Greece’s privatization agency awarded the operating concession for the old thermal spa in Kamena Vourla.

The natural attractions of Greece, the highly developed life sciences sector, the country’s reputation for wellness, combined with government policies to support medical and wellness tourism, means that there is enormous opportunity for investment and further growth.