Global Health Asia-Pacific Special Issue | Page 72


Thailand ’ s medical tourism is reemerging thanks to digitalisation and government initiatives

Thailand expects to return to pre-pandemic medical tourism levels supported by generous medical visas , a tested telemedicine system , and its global reputation

Like many of its neighbouring countries , Thailand was not spared the adverse effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 . Immediate border closings and international flight cancellations resulted in tourist numbers dropping from 40 million to literally zero overnight , crippling both local tourism and the country ’ s healthcare tourism sector . But with the mass rollout of COVID vaccines and the majority of the public now vaccinated , Thailand is set to safely reopen its borders and revitalise its economy with the help of various strategies aimed at these two sectors .

Popularly known as the Land of Smiles , Thailand has a solid reputation for being a popular medical tourism destination . With over 470 private hospitals , the local healthcare tourism industry has served over one million patients annually , generating up to US $ 600 million in yearly revenue . A medical ecosystem comprised of experienced , highly trained physicians who provide patient care services using cutting-edge medical technology at lower prices is a significant selling point that attracts medical tourists to Thailand .
The Thai government recently announced the easing of travel requirements for international travellers . According to Nicolas Leloup , assistant
“ The Thailand Tourism Authority expects the number of tourists to reach 10 million before the end of the year ( 2022 ).”
Nicolas Leloup
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