Thailand’s high regard for medicine is shown by both the King and the Prime Minister being the sons of doctors. About 1.3 million tourists now come each year to enjoy Thailand’s affordable yet world-class health care.
By 2012, though, Thailand is determined to get this figure up to 2 million.
To get the trend under way, Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry is now seeking a visa fee waiver for medical tourists until the end of 2010.
In a recent Al Jazeera broadcast, Aela Callan reports on how patients from across the world are increasingly travelling to Thailand, where they find ‘medical care cheaper and with better care than they might receive at home’.
In the United States, a report by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions forecasts that the medical tourism industry will grown by 35% a year from 2010 – reaching 1.6 million patients a year by 2012.
Medical tourists from the US can expect to save 70% by going to Thailand, even including travel costs, according to the Financial Times.
Kenneth Mays, international marketing director for Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, told the Voice of America that Thailand offers ‘a very ideal combination of medical quality and service quality.’
‘Americans will come here because its 60 to 80 percent less expensive for equivalent treatment,’ he said.
Rising international travel and the availability of information on the internet is also propelling the trend, according to Ron Corben of Voice of America.
Since 1997, when Bangkok’s Bumrungrad pioneered the medical tourist market, several hospital and healthcare groups in Thailand have focused on foreign patients including Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS), Phya Thai Hospital and Samitivej Hospital.
BDMS will have opened a new hospital in Hua Hin by the first half of 2011, which should open up the tranquil resort town as another ideal destination for international patients.