Malaysia attracts 700,000 tourists for medical tourism
September 13, 2013 - 2:20:26 pm
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia hopes to earn RM630 million from medical tourism this year from the rising number of patients flying in for healthcare, with 11 more hospitals being built to get a larger slice of the regional market.
Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) chief executive Dr Mary Wong has said the number of medical tourists jumped from 392,000 in 2010 to 671,000 in 2012.
The council expects to receive 700,000 medical visitors this year.
"This is the way forward. It is a very sustainable economic industry.
"Whether there is recession or no recession, in an up or down economy, when you're not well, you need to see a doctor," Dr Wong told a press conference in Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya Thursday.
She said the government was confident that it can attract more medical tourists, citing the country's relatively lower medical bills as a factor that would woo visitors.
Data from the council has shown the market growing in revenue from RM511 million in 2011 to RM594 million last year.
The global medical tourism market is worth from US$40 billion or RM130.2 billion to US$60 billion or RM195.3 billion with an estimated 7 million people flying annually to make such trips.
The agency's lower expectation with its forecast this year stems from the gloomy economic conditions, with medical tourism viewed as a form of luxury for the affluent.
Analysts said it was not surprising for patients to delay non-emergency treatment during an economic downturn, as seen in neighbouring Thailand when its medical tourism industry earnings fell in 2008 after the global financial crisis hit.
In Malaysia, despite tough economic times the government is still pushing for the industry's growth as one of the routes to generate income for the economy. (QNA)