BANGKOK, Thailand – The secretary-general of the Health Travel Industry Research Society (HTRIS Thailand) announced the launch of a monthly publication to promote Thailand’s medical travel industry.
“Medica Tourism Magazine highlights the very best of Thailand’s medical, hospitality, tourism, travel and wellness industries,” said Secretary-General Chatree Niramitvijit. “We are working with industry representatives to inform the world about the best offerings, promotion discounts and package deals.”
The full-color, 120-page glossy magazine is distributed to more than 60 countries every month through the Kingdom’s embassies and consulates, chambers of commerce, trade promotion offices and tourism information centers throughout the world.
HTRIS, a non-profit private sector initiative, was established to focus on information for the improvement and promotion of Thailand’s international health service industry, particularly the hospital, hospitality, tourism, travel, wellness and support industries such as transport, insurance, translation, pharmacies, information, retail and entertainment.
The Research Society, which serves as a media watchdog for Thailand’s medical tourism industry, publishes information that helps maintain the Kingdom’s predominance in the billion-dollar Asian industry, a regional market position now being challenged by competing Asian nations including Singapore, Malaysia, India and the Philippines.
The organization compiles white papers comprising data from media and market responders, international industry consultants, industry leaders and government advisers.
“The Research Society’s role as industry watchdog and its goals of industry improvement and trade promotion meet an urgent need,” says Secretary-General Niramitvijit.
“The society’s purpose is not only to analyze how the world market views the international service industries such as healthcare, travel, security, hospitality, wellness and tourism in Thailand,” says Mr. Nirmitvijit, “but also to ensure that the increasingly aggressive promotion from competing nations in the region do not overshadow Thailand’s primacy in the region as a favorite medical travel destination.”
An early start in transgender surgery placed Thailand at the forefront of the international medical travel market industry in Asia. Driven by globalization, competitive health care service costs and treatments unavailable elsewhere, patients from around the world kept coming.
Thailand’s predominance in the billion-dollar market is increasingly being challenged by Singapore, Malaysia, India and the Philippines, says the US-based Global Healthcare Association.
Thailand remains confident in cornering a greater share of the regional market despite growing the threat from neighbor nations. Aside from being a more popular tourist destination, medical costs in Thailand are lower than in Singapore and five times less than US prices.
The global monetary meltdown hit neighboring Singapore and its predominantly Indonesian market. However, arrivals from the Middle East and Vietnam continued to bring in revenue.
In Malaysia, the government continues aggressive promotion of its medical tourism industry to Vietnam, Cambodia and the UAE. As well, immigration officials offer six-month visas to medical travelers, compared to the thirty-day visas granted to its non-medical tourists.
India continues to offer the lowest prices in the Asian medical tourism region. The cost of cardiovascular and orthopedic procedures, for instance, is only about one-tenth the cost of US charges. Meanwhile, Indian professionals and state officials continue to work on increasing the quality of medical services, professionals and facilities.
The Philippine medical tourism industry offers highly-educated, experienced and English-fluent medical and service staff. However, image problems as well as issues of security, power supply sufficiency, increasing costs as well as official corruption plague the island nation.
Taiwan and Korea are latecomers in the industry, but have strong government support. “Taiwan offers high-quality health care at very competitive prices but is a slow starter. A liver transplant costs half as much in Taiwan as in Singapore,” says an online source.