Should Lithuania target Eastern or Western Europe?

“Should the recovering wellness tourism sector in Lithuania focus on Western European or Eastern European countries?”, is the debate within the local wellness tourism sector.

Western European tourists tend to spend a lot more, but demand higher quality facilities than lower spending but longer staying Eastern Europeans. The former can find that few local spas and wellness centres live up to the quality of modern Western European and American spas and hotels. Many Eastern Europeans are less familiar with those top quality centres due to their lower income and that many facilities in their home countries are still basic. It can depend on what part of a country the visitor is from as to what they expect.

The Lithuanian Medical Tourism Cluster believes there is untapped potential for exporting services both Westwards and Eastwards, but that differing strategies may be needed for each, or even countries within each block.

Gražvydas Morkus of the Lithuanian Medical Tourism Cluster says, “Statistics Lithuania tells us that, in the second quarter of this year, there has been more growth in incoming guests in resort towns, Birštonas (15.8 %) and Druskininkai (8.6 %), than in the country as a whole (4.8 %). I believe this is due to wellness tourism. Even with a decline in customer flows from Russia and Belarus, foreign tourists spend considerable sums of money. Russians and Belarusians spent 14 % less during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, they still account for more revenue than Lithuania’s fifteen other top-ranking incoming tourism markets combined.

Morkus adds, “Lithuania has as much opportunity to attract tourists from the East as from the West. But we need to use different strategies to present our country and our services, to concentrate more on building personal contacts and long-term connections.” the expert believes.

The Lithuanian Medical Tourism Cluster believes that to conquer foreign markets, medical and wellness service providers, travel agencies, hotels, restaurants and entertainment and shopping centres, and the state need to join forces as they all benefit. It seeks support from the government.