Mark Twain once said: “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer might have responded to this with the following words: “Health is not everything, but without health everything is nothing.”
Health tourism is becoming an increasingly important economic factor. For example, in 2007, travel for medical purposes by itself generated worldwide revenue amounting to 50-60 billion euros. More than 70,000 patients from abroad made use of Germany’s health care system.
These individuals recognised that Germany provides first-class medical and nursing services. So it comes as no surprise that over 82% of Germans praise their health care system. And they are also willing to pay for it; in 2007, Germans spent more than 253 billion euros on their health, which constitutes more than 10 percent of German gross domestic product.
We take pride in the fact that the German health care system is one of the most advanced and innovative systems in the world; it features a strong and effective network linking health insurance funds, medical specialists, hospitals, universities and scientific and research institutes.
We have approximately 2,100 hospitals and clinics with 136,000 medical doctors and nearly 139,000 nurses. There are 829 hospital beds per 100,000 inhabitants – which is far more than in France, Italy and Sweden. However, Germany as a location for health care services has much more to offer.
To cater to the interests of patients, we provide both cutting-edge technology as well as first-class supplementary services. For example, Germany is home to over 310 certified therapeutic spas for patients in aftercare.
Their fellow travellers will discover tourist treasures full of unexpected beauty, such as the cultural gems of Potsdam’s Sanssouci Palace, the famous Martin Luther Memorial in Wittenberg, the Cologne Cathedral and the Prince Bishop’s Residence in Würzburg. These are just four of the 32 UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage sites in Germany, and all of them are an outstanding testimony to history and culture.
As a world-class travel destination, Germany is resplendent with history. Furthermore, visitors will discover an abundance of art and a unique mixture of nature and culture. The famous German priest and physician Sebastian Kneipp once said: “Nature is the best pharmacy”. In Germany, you will find all this and top-quality health services too. We are pleased to welcome you here!
And one final tip: if you are one of the 50 million U.S. citizens whose ancestors hail from Germany, it may well be worthwhile to combine your visit with a search for your family roots.
Ernst Hinsken, MdB is the Federal Government Commissioner for Tourism of Germany.