HCMC strives to attract medical tourists


HO CHI MINH CITY, 26 June 2017: Ho Chi Minh City health and tourism agencies believe medical tourism could be the next trend to improve the southern Vietnamese city’s foreign exchange earnings.

Vietnam Net Bridge quoted the city’s Department of Health deputy director, Tang Chi Thuong, saying there had been a global boom in medical tourism and Asian destinations had benefited.

“With highly skilled and experienced physicians, state-of-the-art facilities and advanced medical technologies as well as reasonably-priced services, public and private hospitals have reported a consistent increase in the number of foreign patients.”

Records showed patients were nationals of US, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Cambodia and Africa, but it was not clear if they were working in Vietnam or actually visited the country to undergo medical treatment.

The decision to promote medical tourism illustrates the advances made in the country. Not too long ago tourists, who were seriously ill or suffered accidents, were usually evacuated by emergency air services to Thailand or Singapore.

The Department of Health recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Department of Tourism to promote medical tourism by promoting the hospitals that can offer dental treatment, traditional medicine, cosmetic surgery and general health consultation and check-ups.

The agreement, the first of its kind, will serve as a foundation for the growth of medical tourism in the city.

The city is set to release a list of hospitals and clinics accredited by the Department of Health authorised to treat tourists, the report said.

Despite improvements made to hospitals, Vietnam is not regarded as a prominent  medical tourism destination when compared with Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and India that clearly lead in this specialised travel sector.

But changes are underway and Ho Chi Minh City is the most likely place for medical tourism to establish a presence.

The city’s tourism sector projects VND170 trillion (USD7.5 billion) in annual revenue by 2020.

The city welcomed more than 5.2 million foreign tourists in 2016, a rise of 10% against 2015, and served 21.8 million domestic visitors, up 10% year-on-year.  There are no figures on how many were medical tourists.