Thailand’s medical tourism thrives

BANGKOK, 2 August 2016: Thailand has once more been confirmed as one of Asia’s top medical tourism destination in the company of Singapore and South Korea, according to a report by VISA and Oxford Economics.

Looking forward the report confirmed that medical tourism globally has a value exceeding USD439 million with a projected growth rate of up to 25% year-over-year for the next 10 years.

The research claimed that 3 to 4% of the world population will travel internationally for healthcare and health related treatment. Medical travel market revenue could soar to an astronomical USD 3 trillion by 2025 and Thailand figures as one of top three destinations in Asia that is well positioned to benefit.

inside no 9

Patients Beyond Borders‘ editors define a medical traveller as anyone who travels across international borders for the purpose of receiving medical care.

PBB understands the market size is USD 45.5-72 billion, based on approximately 12 million cross-border patients, worldwide ,spending an average of USD 3,800-6,000 per visit, including medically-related costs, cross-border and local transport, inpatient stay and accommodations. It estimates that some 1,400,000 Americans will travel outside the US for medical care this year (2016).

In related news, the 2016 report by industry-leading journal, Medical Tourism Index (MTI), listed the top 41 destinations for those seeking value-added services and high quality of healthcare worldwide.

Although the US leads in terms of market share of the global healthcare travel spend, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea continue to thrive according to research by both VISA and MTI.

VISA said: “We believe that medical tourism is primed for accelerated growth as more of these travellers seek new treatments, as well as lower costs or higher-quality care not available in their home country.”

Tourism Authority of Thailand’s governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, has identified high-yield niche markets that can raise the quality benchmark and improve tourism spend

Medical tourism under the category, Health and Wellness, is one of them, primed to deliver substantial benefits for Thailand’s tourism industry, the TAT governor reported recently.

Last month, the 9th Chiang Mai International Health Conference 2016 was hosted at the northern city’s International Convention and Exhibition Centre, in parallel with the Lanna Expo.

Cinside no 9.1hiang Mai Health Services Promotion Association president, Duangsamorn Chairat, noted the event highlighted Chiang Mai’s “vast potential to deliver health-related products and services” to medical tourists under this year’s theme “Healthy Long-Stay”.

Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand and capital of the northern region, offers a wide range of health services including health checks, medical, dentistry, spa, Thai massage, herbal medicine, health products and traditional Thai medicine.

The healthcare industry generates trillions of baht a year for the local economy and tourism in Chiang Mai.

Nation-wide the healthcare system in Thailand treated 2.81 million foreign patients in 2015, up 10.2%. In 2013, medical tourists contributed an estimated USD4.7 billion to the Thailand’s economy.

Medical tourism makes up 0.4% of Thailand’s GDP, while tourism overall accounts for around 6% to 7%, and is considered the third most important economic driver in Thailand.

The prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) certification for healthcare service providers, worldwide, has been awarded to 52 hospitals, specialised clinics, or medical centres in Thailand, up from 22 three years ago.

More than half of the accredited hospitals are in Bangkok followed by Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Samui.

Visa: Mapping the Future of Global Travel



  1. Medical tourism is yet another Thai tourism scam. While the standard of surgery etc. and the facilities are world class so many of the nurses hardly speak English and are incompetent. The usurious rates charged to foreign medical tourists by the cartel are shocking, and the downright crooked use of every last test in the book to extract more money from the sick is no better than the jewellery store cons. This also affects the rates locals have to pay for private healthcare. Thai doctors inspect your wallet to see how sick you can afford to be. It is a business and the TAT, as always, looks for profit and fake numbers to bolster its flaccid reputation. The standards of care in Singapore and South Korea put Thailand in the shade, and the nurses speak English!

    • I very rarely read such nonsense that the writer H. Lee has provided above. The one and only item he/she is correct about is that Thailand has some of the worlds best JCI certified Hospitals and clinics.
      Mr Lee appears to ignore the fact that tourists seeking medical/ elective surgery in Thailand pay approx half of what they would have to pay in most other countries -UK, Australia, New Zealand, Middle Eastern countries etc We have hundreds of very happy clients.Obviously it is a business and, as with any well run business, it needs to make a profit in order to carry on supplying to an increasing number of tourists who can’t afford to have work done in their own country, top quality services. Every one of the hospitals that our company utilises for our clients have staff that speak very good english. The word ‘profit’ is not the ugly word that Mr Lee appears to believe it is. To compare world renowned hospitals to scams is inappropriate in the extreem. Lee Amor -Beautiful Transformations New Zealand

  2. Does anyone seriously believe the numbers quoted in this article? It’s time for travel professionals and travel writers to do some basic Maths when re-hashing this kind of industry boosting report. “4% of the world population will travel internationally for healthcare and health related treatment.”… So, around 280 million medical tourists a year? It might be 10 million, and that’s probably stretching it quite a bit.

Comments are closed.