A constantly growing trend in medical tourism means an increasing number of patients worldwide are travelling to foreign shores to reap the benefits of treatments that are either more expensive or unavailable in their home countries.
Last year, a total of 2.5 million visitors, mainly from the US, UK, Arab States and Vietnam, travelled to Thailand for the purposes of medical tourism. These tourists pumped the equivalent of US$4 billion into Thailand’s economy.
With high numbers of medical tourists flocking to the Kingdom for treatments, the industry is growing at an impressive rate. Thailand’s official aim is to become the medical tourism hub of Asia, and with visitors from countries such as Myanmar and Vietnam also being added to the foreign patient list, it is already on its way to achieving its lofty goal.
Supporters of further growth in Thailand’s medical tourism industry view the sector’s expansion as positive for the country’s overall economy, and they are encouraging the government to implement projects to promote and expand facilities and services.
As many of the medical tourists that travel to Thailand are not in search of specialist procedures, the range of treatments sought is vast and diverse, and this in turn requires considerable resources to meet demand. The principal appeal is based on first-rate treatments, lower prices and shorter waiting lists.
Many medical tourists also choose to tie in their treatment with a holiday to recover from a medical procedure. This means island resorts like Phuket and Koh Samui are becoming increasingly popular with visitors who want to enjoy a tranquil oceanside atmosphere while recuperating.
Such islands are peppered with top-quality internationally branded resorts, but privately rented holiday villas are also gaining popularity with patients recovering from medical procedures as they offer guests additional living space to relax in rather than being cramped into a hotel room.
Private villas also provide guests with a quiet setting where they can focus on their health and wellbeing without being disturbed by other guests. Private facilities, including a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and even private gym to build strength and fitness.