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Dental Tourism in the age of COVID-19

The pandemic has left the travel industry barely surviving as it tries to cope with multiple restrictions and convoluted policies. This year marks yet another summer lost as governments across Europe remain apprehensive about travel. From the UK’s confusing traffic light system to Germany’s blanket ban on arrivals, it’s proving a difficult time for the industry.
Not only that, but practices relying on health tourism, particularly in parts of eastern europe, have found it particularly hard without their regular customers. Even as the borders begin to reopen, there are multiple tests required which often amount to more than the price of a flight ticket itself. It’s no wonder then why people aren’t travelling. Businesses have been left feeling forgotten and unsupported while they take the hit for an inefficient system.

Cosmetics

Europeans flock to countries like Turkey and the Czech Republic to get their affordable cosmetic procedures done on a budget. People have found that they can cut the price of treatment, get their new veneers and yet still receive good levels of care. On top of that, they also get a holiday and still spend less overall than if they’d gone private at home.
Of course, with any deal that seems too good to be true, normally it is and standards have been criticised. Procedures abroad are done in order to achieve short term and immediate results whereas UK practices tend to be more careful with procedures designed to be minimally invasive so as to ensure the longevity of teeth. With the rise of influencer and social media, more and more young people are making the most of these budget opportunities.

Photo by Quang Tri NGUYEN on Unsplash

COVID-19

The pandemic devastated the travel industry, shutting borders and limiting reasons for travel to ‘essential-only’. In the initial stages of the pandemic, UK air passenger arrivals fell by 98.3%.
Even a year later in 2021, arrival rates were still low at 93.43%.
As we start to see more and more countries opening up, the demand for dental services abroad remains steady and tourists are finding more and more ways to work around travel bans by booking appointments as medical treatment is considered one of the essential permitted reasons.

Recovery

With vaccinations paving the way, we are starting to see more and more countries opening up. Medical and Dental tourism is starting to thrive again as people rush to seek treatment after waiting for what feels like forever. Despite rising cases in the UK, vaccinations are severing the tie between cases and deaths. It may now be that we live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable and keep it under control with annual boosters and mask-wearing during flu season.
Taking the plunge
If people do decide to proceed with their dental treatment abroad, it’s important to check that the area they are travelling to is safe and has all the necessary procedures in place. If someone normally travels to Turkey for treatment, it would be wise for them to postpone the trip since Turkey sits on the UK red list and therefore returnees need to pay thousands to stay in quarantine hotels on arrival.
The clinic itself is also worth researching since safety must be the absolute priority. Although COVID-19 transmission is exceptionally low in the UK, there is no guarantee that the same levels of infection control are upheld in other practices abroad.

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