Asia continues to be the top medical destination in medical travel, as Asian medical destinations continue to offer better and cheaper medical procedures and care than most other medical destinations.

In countries such as Singapore and Thailand, government agencies have been set up to help market their expertise globally.

Thailand accounts for maximum share of the Asia medical tourism market, being followed by India and Singapore. South Korea stands at the fourth spot in the year 2016 and is likely to almost double its market share by the year 2022.

Plans to target new markets are part of Thailand’s campaign to shore up its medical tourism industry.

Looking towards newer markets

The Thai government is looking towards newer markets, such as China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, to take advantage of the growing affluence in those countries and the rising demand for professional health care.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently organised the 4th Amazing Thailand Health and Wellness Tourism Showcase with the theme of ‘Thailand: Paradise for Longevity’ to promote the Kingdom as a destination for products and services for a longer life. The one-day event was held on 11 August, offering special health and wellness deals until 31 December.

“According to a report by VISA and Oxford Economics, Thailand is considered as one of Asia’s top medical tourism destinations. Thailand now has 58 JCI-accredited hospitals, more than any other Southeast Asian country.”

Mr. Noppadon Pakprot, TAT Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business said

The reason many people choose Thailand for a medical procedure is the same reason any medical tourist travels abroad: cost. The price of a hip replacement surgery in Bangkok is around half the cost it would be in the United States.

Some independent platforms like Medigo help patients to get medical second opinions and to schedule affordable, high quality medical treatment abroad, and many people use online forums to discuss their treatment and give recommendations.

To encourage health tourism the Thai government has tripled the period visitors undergoing medical treatments can stay in Thailand from 30 to 90 days. This would allow for overseas visitors to undergo extensive procedures and to potentially combine treatment with leisure travel.

This is an extension of a policy already in place for citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), which include the Kingdom of Bahrain, State of Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman, State of Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

As health care costs skyrocket, patients in the developed world are increasingly looking overseas for medical treatment.

Thailand is capitalizing on its low costs and highly trained doctors to appeal to these ‘‘medical tourists.’’ Even with airfare, the cost of going to Thailand to undergo surgery can be a lot cheaper, and the quality of services is often equal or even better than that found in the United States and most european countries.

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