Asia Tops Health Tourism Destinations

Asia Tops Health Tourism Destinations
Asia Tops Health Tourism Destinations

Asia continues to be the top destination in medical travel, according to a comprehensive study by iGATE Research, a market research and consulting firm based in India.

Asian medical destinations continue to offer more and better medical procedures and care than most other medical destinations, PR Newswire reported.

Several hospitals in Asia have carved such outstanding reputations for themselves that medical tourism has become a major money-spinner. In Singapore and Thailand, for instance, government agencies have been set up to help market their expertise globally.

The Indian government has removed many visa restrictions and introduced a visa-on-arrival scheme for medical tourists from selected countries. This allows foreign nationals to stay in India for 30 days for medical reasons and can even get a visa of up to one year depending on treatment requirements.

Special medical travel agencies have sprung up around the world and top Asian hospitals routinely have special “international” desks and services to assist overseas patients with everything from doctors’ appointments to accommodation.

Asia’s medical tourism market is anticipated to grow with a double digit Compound Annual Growth Rate during 2015-20.

Thailand holds the highest market share in the Asian medical tourism market. It is being followed by India and Singapore.

South Korea stood at fourth spot in 2014 and is likely to more than double its market share by 2020, while Malaysia rounds up the top five medical tourism destinations in Asia.

  Iranian Health Tourism

Iran’s good reputation in the medical world has prompted the Ministry of Health to identify and equip hospitals capable of catering to the needs of international health tourists.

In addition to topnotch medical care, the affordability of health services in Iran is touted as a major selling point.

To prevent fraudulent activities, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization only allows travel agencies certified by the Health Tourism Leadership Council to provide health tourism services.

Hospitals will also be ranked based on the quality of services offered in different specialties and those meeting the standards will be added to a list compiled by the ministry. Licensed travel agencies will have access to the list, making it easier for health tourists to find hospitals offering top-quality care suited to their medical needs.

According to Health Ministry’s officials, facilitating the issuance of “health visas” is a priority.

The hassle of acquiring a visa and undergoing the usual formalities is off-putting, so facilitating travel to Iran for those who seek medical care could boost the number of tourists. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also announced its willingness to ease visa regulations to boost health tourism. In 2004, roughly 12,000 people traveled to Iran to receive medical care and the number reached 17,000 in 2005. However, the number of visitors in the following years is unknown due to lack of reliable data.