Global medical tourism targets US$ 100 b by 2012

Monday, 13 December 2010 00:20 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The medical tourism sector, which is growing at 20-30 per cent annually, will continue its growth pattern worldwide and will grow exponentially and to become a $100 billion sector by 2012, according to industry research.

According to business research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, the medical tourism industry is currently a $78.5 billion industry, catering to 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 per cent of healthcare seekers worldwide are from Gulf and Arab states. Significantly, patients from UAE alone spend about $2 billion in healthcare travel on an annual basis.

As a result, many countries are targeting the region to woo guests and patients to their own medical tourism destinations.

Germany, in particular, and Europe, in general, have been primary medical tourism hubs for hundreds of years and continue to lead the industry today followed by Asian countries such as Thailand, India and Malaysia.

Boasting of an excellent healthcare system, high quality, safe and quick treatment, Germany is considered to be a top destination for patients from all over the world, and particularly from the Middle East, UK and the US.

Germany is also an attractive destination for patients from the region, in terms of distance, costs and tourism attractions – thus reinforcing it as a premier medical tourism hub in Europe.

“Middle East is one for the most important markets for us,” said Samir Daqqaq, Senior Vice President – Development [Middle East and Africa] at Oetker Hotel Collection, a top European luxury hotel group.

“We have been actively investing our time and resources in promoting the health benefits offered at Brenner’s Park,” he added.

The Brenner’s Park-Hotel & Spa in Germany, is, situated in the valley of Black Forest in Baden-Baden.

“Medical tourism is accessible to everybody, facilitated by the access to information due to internet and affordability of air travel. 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, such as Baden-Baden,” Daqqaq explained.

Hans-Peter Veit, Spa Manager at Brenner’s Park-Hotel & Spa, said: “We are happy to invite the Middle East medical tourists to enjoy the world-renowned natural and holistic medical care on offer at Brenner’s – a hotel with an international reputation for over 135 years that has made a mark in medical spa for over 25 years.”

“Conducted by qualified doctors, who are experts in their own field of specializations, we guarantee a unique experience for our guests – healthcare for the body, mind and soul and a medical spa like no other. With 20 treatment rooms and customized spa programs, our guests enjoy a comprehensive therapeutic care while enjoying the comforts of Brenner’s.”

A McKinsey & Company 2008 report also emphasizes that 40 per cent of medical travellers seek advanced technology, while 32 per cent seek better healthcare. Another 15 per cent seek faster medical services while only 9 per cent of travellers seek lower costs as their primary consideration.

“In a nutshell, Germany fits the bill in all these facets, making it the ideal medical tourist destination. Thousands of international travellers from the Gulf, Arab states, Russia and around the world visit Germany on a regular basis for the best in shopping, sightseeing and medical treatments. Over the past few years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of GCC tourists to Germany,” Daqqaq continued.

Statistics by the German Federal Statistics Office show that the number of overnight stays by GCC nationals in the country during the first five months of 2010 touched 243,759 nights – an increase of 16.4 per cent compared to same period in 2009.

When compared to the same period in 2008, the number of GCC visitors to Germany rose by 30.3 per cent – among the highest from any region in the world, making Germany the preferred destination for travel and medical tourists from Gulf.