ASEAN advisors push for Thailand to develop more as a medical tourism hub for the region
Thailand’s blooming medical tourism market made over THB 120 billion in 2012
Middle Eastern visitors given 90-day visa extensions
Thailand to focus on Spa, Thai food & herbs, Spiritual meditation, Tourism, Sports, Cultural activities & Medical care
Target tourists include: shoppers, honeymooners, golfers, filmmakers, and MICE visitors
WORD ON MEDICAL TOURISM: The ASEAN National Economic and Social Advisory Council has proposed to the Cabinet that Thailand continue to develop the country’s multi-billion-baht medical tourism industry along with other countries in the region.
Part of the proposal includes granting further visa extensions to foreign senior citizens seeking a long-term stay in Thailand for medical services.
Visitors from six Middle Eastern countries have been enjoying 90-day visa extensions since January 2013. These countries include: Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. There are reportedly plans to give similar visa privileges to visitors from other ASEAN countries some time in 2015.
The National Economic and Social Advisory Council wants to have a database of medical tourism products and information for tourists in five categories: spa services and beauty; Thai food and herbs; spiritual meditation; tourism, sports and cultural activities; and medical care.
As well as targeting long-stay tourists and retirees, the advisory council suggested targeting niche groups such as shoppers, honeymooners, golfers, filmmakers, celebrities and MICE visitors, adding that health centers with physicians and interpreters would also be needed.
According to Thailand PRD, Medical tourism generated 52 billion baht in revenue for Thailand in 2008, 58 billion baht in 2009, and 65 billion baht in 2010. The earnings rose to 97.8 billion baht in 2011 and 121.6 billion baht in 2012.