Thailand has always brought a smile to the traveler to this wonderful land. It is famed for its gentle and friendly people, its pristine beaches and its unbelievably beautiful resorts, food, fruits and general bonhomie of good cheer that the Thai people ensure is imparted to their guests in this lovely land. Amazing Thailand. Surely.
Now Thailand is offering even more. World class medical care at costs much lower than any one can envisage in the Americas, Europe and Middle East. This has resulted in more people from all over the world going to Thailand and its state-of-the-art medical facilities for health checks, preventive and curative treatments, invasive surgical procedures, post operative care, detoxification and wellness regimens. Thailand not only makes you smile. It also cures you of ailments.
Medical tourism coupled with Spa and Wellness products are forging a new but consistent niche in this new genre of tourism activity. Thailand is now able to offer you several options for medical treatments coupled with all the avenues for leisure pursuits that any person can wish for.
A favourable exchange rate of the US-Dollar and the Euro to the Thai Baht makes medical procedures an incredible value-for-money proposition to foreign visitors. Cheaper medical costs mean more money is available for family members and friends to accompany the patients. It is those family and friends that seek accommodation near the hospitals so they can visit the patients, yet at the same time have a comfortable stay affording them access to the other available attractions.
Thailand has attracted overall 50-55 million visitors who have added 2.70 billion Euros in revenue to the economy. A large number of them are leisure travelers and some travel for business or conferences. However, the number of foreign patients in Thai hospitals has grown from 500,000 in 2001 to 1.4 million in 2006 and spent 27 billion Thai Bahts ( about 843 million US $ ) in a year. The unique factor attributed to this phenomenal growth in incoming patients is the never disputed Thai hospitality. Their service, politeness and attention.
The current country-wise distribution of visitors coming to Thailand with the primary motive of healthcare is :
- U.A.E – 43.6%
- Qatar – 8.9%
- Oman – 6.0%
- Japan – 5.3%
- Myanmar – 5.0%
- Bangladesh – 3.6%
- U.S.A – 2.5%
- U.K – 2.5%
- Germany 1.2%
- France 1.1%
- Australia – 1.0%
- Canada – 0.8%
- Others 18.5%
The wide spectrum of health and medical care being offered so successfully in Thailand are:
Hospitals – conventional medicine, invasive treatments, state-of-the-art technology
Wellness and Spa – complementary medicine, traditional natural preventive medicine, organic additives addressing the mind, body and soul
Destination spas – body and mind treatment backed with medical knowledge and hydrotherapy tubs, wet-rooms, steam baths, sauna, therapeutic message, et al.
Among the most outstanding spa resorts are the Six Senses. A blend of true luxury and personal space for self actualization that the vision and aesthetic commitment of Sonu Shivdasani, has conceived, in seven locations in Thailand.
According to Khun Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, the Director – India of Tourism Authority of Thailand based in New Delhi, medical tourism to Thailand will grow exponentially as the higher costs of private medical treatment become prohibitive in the West. Thailand is emerging as a medical destination of repute with the success of doctors performing difficult procedures at less cost because of the high technology infrastructure in Bangkok hospitals and the skill and excellence of Thai medical professionals.
The visitors from U.S.A have grown to 750,000 arrivals in 2009. Expectedly, Thailand will receive 6.0 million visitors in 2010 with folded hands and the lyrical greeting of Sawasdee Ka. An English Premier League soccer player came to Bangkok with a broken nose and was back in the field playing ball a week later.
Dr. Zadok S. Lempert, the CEO of Medico Management and Travel Services International, Bangkok, believes that medical tourism could be a runaway success. The medical services that are provided include :
- Pre-travel medical referral consultation
- Coordinate medical appointments
- Help with travel procedures and admission papers
- Arrange airport pickup
- Hotel reservations
- Patient escort to appointments
- Supervized home health care
- Nursing services
- Special dietary requirements
- Attention to special cultural or religious needs
- Concierge services including translators for shopping, dining, sightseeing, spas, cruises and special events
- Consolidated invoice from all service providers
Therefore the Medical-Healthcare-Wellness-Spa tourism in Thailand is the new holistic product in an industry that thrives with innovative offerings. This one, is like a multi-colored lei that is offered to the Gods everyday in Thailand. Fresh, beautiful, unique and true. With a different meaning for every one offered at the temple.
Welcome to a world that washes away all your stress and troubles. Thailand cares that you stay with a smile. And leave with a bigger one.
The author is a travel writer, tourism consultant and Executive Director of Travelcorp. E-mail : [email protected]