Some say that it is on the 18 June that Debrecen will appear on the world map; the day when Wizz Air’s first direct flight to London takes off. The flights are expected to boost health tourism in Debrecen. The private clinics have already started cooperating in making arrangements for receiving English patients.
Who will travel on these flights three times a week? According to current expectations, businessmen, foreign students studying in Debrecen, Hungarians working in England, conference guests and those who are interested in medical tourism. Years ago, Wizz Air didn’t find the region ready for such an investment but they say the situation has changed since then: the demand has increased, the infrastructure of the region has improved, the number of business and touristic investments has risen. Besides, the leaders of the company think that the higher education which is recognized Europe-wide and the proximity of Romania and Ukraine also add to the importance of Debrecen.
Debrecen hopes that the new flight will boost the popularity of the University of Debrecen. Today, there is an international market even in higher education: students choose universities depending on sufficiency of offer, costs of training, availability of accommodation and accessibility. A major role has been assigned to the medical university, too. In the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, for example, patients often have to wait for years to get a hip replacement. If the clinics in Debrecen were able to perform hip replacements in a much shorter time at affordable prices, patients would come to Debrecen also because of this.
Besides the attraction of the university, Debrecen sees great potentials in health tourism. In the 2007-2013 development programme of the city, the first point on the priority list is the utilization of thermal water. The most prominent venue where this is being done is Aquaticum in the heart of Nagyerdő. But there is an increasing demand for medical and therapeutic services related to thermal water. It is the dentists who could profit the most from the new flight since their prices are still far below the European rates. Debrecen offers a huge variety of dental treatments, some of them as unique as smile design. Head of a private dental clinic Róbert Ónodi-Szűcs says that unless dentists start cooperating, they don’t have much chance of attracting masses of people.