AMMAN, Jordan — The number of Libyan and Yemeni visitors to Jordan for medical tourism has dropped by almost 80 percent over the first quarter of this year, a sector leader said on Saturday.
Despite a “slight” increase in the number of visitors from Saudi Arabia, the overall number of visitors from all over the world witnessed a 30 percent drop over the same period, said Private Hospitals Association (PHA) President Fawzi Hammouri.
He attributed the “large” drop to the government’s decision to regulate the entry of Libyan, Yemeni and Sudanese nationals into Jordan through the visa system, expecting the continuation of this decision to result in further “disastrous” drops in the number of visitors and medical tourism revenues.
“Jordan, which is still the top destination in the Arab world for medical tourism, could lose that position, in light of fierce competition from a number of countries in the region,” Hammouri told The Jordan Times in a phone interview.
He called for allowing the PHA to issue visas for medical tourists, adding that the Turkish government has delegated this authority to the Turkish medical tourism council, which issued visas for 60,000 Libyans and Iraqis in one month.
The association has officially addressed the Ministry of Interior with this suggestion a month ago, but received no answer, according to Hammouri.
Around 200,000 foreign healthcare seekers visited Jordan in 2015.
The figure marked a 10-15 per cent decrease in the number of patients and revenues generated, compared to over 250,000 patients generating revenues of JD1 billion in 2014, according to preliminary PHA figures.