Medical tourism set to top $100 billion by 2012

Medical tourism is a massive and rapidly growing travel sector all over the world and is forecast to be worth USD100 billion by 2012.

The sector is growing at a rate of 20-30% a year with no slowdown foreseen. The Times of India recently cited figures from Frost and Sullivan, the business research and consulting firm. The company estimated that the medical tourism industry was currently worth USD78.5 billion (calculated to the end of 2010). It caters for over three million patients who travel around the globe for medical care.

The Middle East is one of the latent source markets of patients and it is estimated that 20% of healthcare seekers worldwide are from Gulf and Arab states. Patients from UAE alone spend about USD 2 billion in healthcare travel on an annual basis.

Germany and other European destinations, including Switzerland, have been primary medical tourism hubs for hundreds of years and continue to lead the industry. Germany boasts an excellent healthcare system, with high-quality, safe and quick treatments. But European destinations for medical tourism are followed by Thailand, India and Malaysia – all popular places for tourists from Australia seeking dental and cosmetic surgery procedures at cheaper rates than at home.

A McKinsey and Company 2008 report found that 40% of medical travellers sought advanced technology, while 32% sought better healthcare. Another 15% looked for faster medical services while only 9% of travellers identified lower costs as their primary consideration.

The Times of India quoted Samir Daqqaq, Senior Vice President – Development, Middle East and Africa, at Oetker Hotel Collection, saying: “Middle East is one for the most important markets for us. We have been actively investing our time and resources in promoting the health benefits offered at Brenner’s Park. The rising health costs in developed countries, the opportunity to get world-class treatment coupled with the avenue to spend quality time in beautiful locales, are leading people to seek affordable health care elsewhere."

Written by William Sykes