For the past decade, Thailand has been a top destination for medical tourists. It has become increasingly common for consumers to cross borders for medical services. One of the countries with the highest influx of medical tourists in the world is Thailand. In 2019, it scored 66.83 in the worldwide medical tourism market index.
In an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand closed its borders for most of 2020 and 2021. The country was successful in dealing with the pandemic, and after rolling out nationwide vaccination programs, it opened its borders late in 2021 and promptly positioned itself as a top medical tourism destination once again.
How has Thailand managed to become the region’s top medical tourism destination, and how can they develop this market to accelerate its growth in the post-pandemic world? We look at the current trends and opportunities based on the statistics of medical tourism in Thailand.
Thailand is known for having affordable yet advanced healthcare services, which draws many medical tourists to the country. Compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, healthcare institutions in Thailand highly prioritize certifications, high-quality equipment, and training for professionals. They also offer universal healthcare that provides coverage to most of the population.
In 2019, Thailand’s medical tourism market drew more than 600,000 inbound tourists, logging a value of 1.8 billion US dollars. It is projected that this value will rise to 9.9 billion by 2023 and increase further to 24.4 billion by 2027.
Treatments that medical tourists go to Thailand for range from major surgeries like heart bypass and hip replacements to dental and cosmetic work. In October 2021, as the country reopened to tourists, hospitals and medical institutions introduced COVID-19 recovery units and quarantine resorts in Bangkok as part of their plans to revive the medical tourism industry.
Thailand’s medical tourism market has maintained a competitive edge over Singapore, another popular destination for medical tourists in Southeast Asia. Treatment costs as well as travel expenses are cheaper in Bangkok, which helps the country draw more tourists every year.
Moreover, the hospitality industry in Thailand is also highly developed, offering tourists many interesting destinations prior to or after their treatment, allowing them to make the most out of their trips. The country is known for its beaches, cultural heritage, and local cuisine, which are all considered affordable experiences.
Thailand’s medical tourism market is already known for offering great value and providing great care at the same time. In the post-COVID era, wellness can be promoted as another major avenue for tourists that are not seeking strict medical care. Some services that can be offered under this new banner include traditional medicine, mind and body fitness, nutrition, meditation, yoga, and spa treatments.
Hospitals and other medical institutions in Thailand may also be able to attract new customers by securing international accreditation and certifications that will help assure patients that they will be safe and taken care of when seeking treatment in the country. Adopting smart technology solutions for hospitals, such as patient databases, smart medical devices, and automated administrative workflows can help healthcare providers focus on their patients’ needs more while also optimizing their processes.
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