Hospitals such as the Bangkok Hospital and Bumrungrad Hospital have led the way, drawing wealthy clients from the Middle East, Japan and the United States seeking a high standard of care at affordable prices.
Now, marketing systems are in place to bring such clients to Bangkok and Pattaya as well. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and individual tour operators have taken the lead to develop this important segment.
For example, tour operators in the State of Qatar see positive signs in Thailand’s medical tourism industry, thanks to competitive prices and the international standards of many medical facilities. Overall, Qatari tourist numbers have increased 58% in the 2007-2010 period alone—and many of those visitors are seeking medical care.
Farooq Siddiqui, manager of Regency Travel & Tours in Qatar, said the medical tourism industry in Thailand has much room to grow with Middle Eastern patients.
"Medical treatment in Thailand costs about 50% less than in Europe," Mr Siddiqui said. Current numbers show about a third of Qataris looking for medical care abroad are coming to Thailand, with the rest going to Germany, the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe.
Mr Siddiqui added that rich Qataris like to have a medical check-up in Bangkok and stay at the JW Marriott Hotel, which offers a special rate for medical tourism clients. For its part, Bumrungrad International Hospital, also in Bangkok, reported 125,000 Arab patients last year alone.
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