Global Health Asia-Pacific Special Issue | Page 73

Thailand has a solid reputation for being a popular medical touri9sm destination .
director of international marketing at Samitivej Hospital , these measures include lifting the traveller vaccine certificate and extending the tourist visa period between 30 to 45 days . “ The Thailand Tourism Authority expects the number of tourists to reach 10 million before the end of the year ( 2022 ). So yes , Thailand has seen a rebound in the influx of tourists ”, he told Global Health Asia-Pacific .
Evidence of this can already be seen at Samitivej Hospital where patient occupancy rates postpandemic have reached up to 100 percent due to the drastic rise in healthcare demand . Leloup provided two reasons behind this . “ First , the increased number of travellers includes those from the neighbouring countries who had to postpone their treatment due to travel restrictions . And second , the same applies to our domestic market . It ’ s like everyone needs to receive treatment at the same time ,” he said .
Part of the government ’ s easing of travel restrictions also includes expanded medical visa benefits , which are now valid for up to a year and can cover up to three accompanying relatives . Leloup believes this new policy provides peace of mind for incoming tourists as their family members can now remain in the country for an extended time without repercussions . “ Women with high-risk pregnancies and patients seeking lengthy treatment plans at the hospital ’ s rehabilitation centre are two examples of patients whose families can benefit from an extended hospital stay ,” Leloup explained .
Apart from medical visa benefits , the Thai government has planned several other initiatives to further support local health tourism and position Thailand as the primary medical hub in Southeast Asia . Recently , the Medical Hub Board approved establishing a Thai Wellness Economic Corridor ( TWC ) in the southern provinces consisting of various wellness business establishments , such as medical centres , dental care centres , and spa facilities . Additionally , Thailand became the first country in the region to legalise cannabis for medical purposes , which could draw more medical tourists .
Buranut Limjitti , senior vice president of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services ( BDMS ), was similarly optimistic that the number of healthcare travellers coming to Thailand for treatment would return to prepandemic levels . “ We are seeing significant growth from the Middle East , Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia , Laos , Myanmar and Vietnam , as well as Bangladesh . We also are seeing a return of patients from Western countries ,” he added .
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com ISSUE 6 | 2022