Medical tourism worth $100 billion by 2012

Lopingco (centre) speaks about the growing medical tourism and its benefits for visitors

FIGURES released at Women’s Healthcare, a conference and exhibition held in Dubai recently, revealed that the medical tourism industry, currently worth $56 billion worldwide, is projected to be worth $100 billion by 2012.

This inaugural event held at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, showcased the preventative and curative healthcare travel industry, which was said to be growing by 15 to 20 per cent per annum.
Spearheading this expanding market was the Spa Association of the Philippines, which reported a 200 per cent growth each year of the Asian spa industry in the Asia-Pacific region, the fastest growing sector of tourism in the area.
While medical tourism for cosmetic purposes was prevalent, offering customers the option for procedures as well as recovery time away from home, preventative medical tourism was growing in popularity.
“Healthcare tourism has grown tremendously in the Philippines and is now the number two priority for the government,” said Marjorie Lopingco, president, Spa Association of the Philippines.
 “It’s not just about curative medicine, but also preventative. We see proactive people who want to take care of their bodies and reward themselves at the same time.”
The Department of Tourism from the Philippines who revealed some of their more popular health and wellness tourism packages at Women’s Healthcare, such as the Tee-off to Wellness, which involved games of golf, luxury hotels and massages together with a comprehensive medical check up, including routine urinalysis, chest x-rays and blood tests.
“The Philippines is growing in popularity as a medical tourist spot due to its natural beauty and resources. We have more than 100 species of wild plants that have therapeutic value and we are known for our hospitality and healing hands,” said Lopingco. 
Bringing this information to Dubai was crucial as the UAE was one of the biggest markets for out bound medical travel, having sent out 92,000 patients overseas in 2007. In response to this trend, the Institute for International Research (IIR) Middle East, the organisers of Women’s Healthcare, announced the launch of Healthcare Travel Congress & Exhibition, which will take place at Al Bustan Rotana Hotel from November 4 to 6, 2008.