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Medical tourism increases
November 2016 933

Travel organisations were on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate with the leading centres of medical excellence from around the world gathered at the International Medical Travel Exhibition & Conference (Imtec) held last month at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

With the emergence of more centres of excellence in the UAE, experts attending Imtec agree the UAE is likely to lead the growth of medical tourism in this part of the world.

Eben Botha, exhibition director, Informa Life Sciences and organisers of Imtec highlighted the strategic importance of the event to travel industry, 'Medical tourism has been a bright spot for the global hospitality industry in recent years, with experts estimating the market to be valued at $45.5 to 72 billion, based on approximately 14 million cross-border patients worldwide spending an average of $3,800 to $6,000 per visit, including medically related costs, cross-border and local transport, inpatient stay and accommodations.'

Some of the top destinations that have become emerged during the growth phase of the medical tourism sector include India, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and the USA.


Thumbay Medical Tourism (TMT) celebrated World Tourism Day by welcoming its 6,000th medical tourist at its facility in Ajman. Concurrently, TMT also hosted celebrations at Sharjah International Airport providing complimentary gift packs which included free consultation passes at Thumbay Hospitals, information packs and other goodies.

Ras Al Khaimah’s Sheikh Khalifa Specialty Hospital also drew attention from travel organisations as a preferred destination for international travellers.


India’s medical tourism market expected to reach $8 billion by 2020.

India’s showcase at Imtec under the theme, ‘India Heals’ promoted the country as an ideal healthcare and wellness destination. Banking on its long-standing relationship with the UAE and the Middle East, India hopes to bridge more collaborations in the medical value travel segment. The healthcare portal launched at Imtec is a useful resource, a one-point information site and covers hospital-related and travel-related information on India.

The medical facilities listed on the portal can be searched by location, medical specialty, key procedures, language options available in hospitals and their certifications. Associated details such as costs relating to treatment in hospitals in India, travel and visa formalities, last-mile connectivity, tariff options on stay, benefits of treatment in India, advance information on preparatory aspects in seeking medical care etc. are also available on the portal.

India’s competitiveness comes at price point while providing quality medical care. Costs of complex procedures are at a fifth or even a tenth of costs in many other markets. Indian medical history spans thousands of years, covering even Ayurvedic and alternate medicine forms. Connectivity between UAE and India with more than 700 flights a week with an average travel time of three hours is a great advantage. Globally, the medical value travel is projected to increase to $32.5 billion over the next five years.


The Medical City (TMC), a private tertiary care hospital in the Philippines hosted a press briefing on medical tourism in the Philippines at Millennium Airport Hotel.

Dr Cenon Alfonso, an experienced surgeon and the CEO of TMC Clark highlighted the advantage of medical offerings in Philippines, 'Quality and innovative healthcare with tender loving care in Philippines come at highly competitive costs. The quality of care is at par with the world and the country ranks top in the world for the most welcoming and happiest population. The target of TMC is not only to be on top in terms of provisions but on providing value to health as well. We are not only talking about short-term cost but long-term cost of health care. Preventive rather than reactionary care what we want people to engage in especially those who are exposed to various unhealthy socio-economic-cultural lifestyles.'

The delegation from TMC presented innovative healthcare services such as Robotics Surgery, Human Stem Cell and Cell-based Therapy Program as well as Laser Treatment for Scars that are available to an increasing number of tourists seeking medical treatment and procedures in the country.

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