Thailand has competitive advantages to strengthen wellness and medical tourism, both in terms of certified facilities and lower prices, than international players, according to The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
As wellness travellers are seeking transformation, wellness tourism products around the world must accommodate their sophisticated demand, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said on Thursday.
Speaking at Bangkok Post Conference 2023 — “Thailand’s Road to Wellness Hub”, Mr Yuthasak said providing hybrid wellness programmes is among new trends. The TAT is looking to combine wellness treatment with other tourism products, such as physical fitness, volunteer programmes, culinary experiences as well as spiritual and cultural activities.
Science-based wellness is another promising trend, such as solving fertility issues, and such services are available in Thailand.
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The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 35% of medical tourism with the biggest contribution in terms of value, in which Thailand accounted for 9%, followed by Indonesia and Malaysia at 6% and 5%, respectively, according to Allied Market Research.
Mr Yuthasak said the research study also predicted Thailand’s medical tourism market would be worth US$24.4 billion (838 billion baht) in 2027, an increase from $9.1 billion in 2019.
He said Thailand has competitive advantages in this segment, particularly in terms of medical costs, in which average service prices are typically 50–90% less than those in the United States.
The country also has 59 healthcare facilities accredited by the US-based Joint Commission International, which is the fourth largest healthcare accreditation body in the world.
The government also provides a medical tourist visa — valid for one year with multiple entries of up to 90 days — and the Thailand Elite Visa for a long stay of five to 20 years.
With a wide range of costs from hospitals, diverse types of short- and long-stay accommodations and extensive treatment services from advanced medical technology to natural therapy, these also help make Thailand superior to other countries, he said.
Highlighted programmes and facilities include a wide range of world-class medical, wellness and sports academies.
Other government policies help support Thailand as a medicinal cannabis medicine hub, as well as the Thailand Riviera, a wellness tourism zone comprising four coastal provinces along the Gulf of Thailand.
Mr Yuthasak emphasised that Thailand can also capitalise on soft power, such as Thai cuisine, spiritual culture, Thai massage, Thai medicine, muay Thai and its quality hospitality to blend in with wellness tourism.