Health and wellness tourism is a very promising market segment for travel. Dubai is on a steady path in ensuring that the number of tourists visiting for health would reach over 1.3 million in 2021. finds out from key industry stakeholders on the aspects of this emerging trend.
It is estimated that the worldwide medical tourism market is growing at the rate of 15-25 per cent. The UAE government wants to make the country a world-class healthcare destination. A variety of factors are being considered such as: Government and private sector investment in healthcare infrastructure – wherein 2016 health expenditure increased by 4.9 per cent in local currency terms, reaching AED59.02 billion ($16.08 billion) and it is estimated to rise to AED101.38 billion, which equates to a CAGR of 6.1 per cent. Demonstrable commitment to international accreditation, quality assurance, international patient flow, potential for cost savings on medical procedures, excellent tourism infrastructure, sustained reputation for clinical excellence, healthcare innovations, and the availability of internationally-trained, experienced medical staff, are also being considered. The government is keen to diversify from an oil-based economy and has identified medical tourism as a potential area for growth. According to the Business Monitor International UAE healthcare report 2016, the goal is to attract half a million medical tourists per year by 2020, with the sector contributing AED2.6 billion ($708 million) to the UAE’s GDP by this time.
H.E. Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri Assistant Undersecretary of Public Health Policy and Licensing UAE Ministry of Health
Our consolidated efforts to develop Dubai’s medical tourism sector started in 2014 when His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, launched ‘Dubai, a Global Destination for Medical Tourism’ initiative. Guided by this ambitious initiative, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launched Dubai Health Experience (DXH) as a brand in April 2016. In 2017, we will be conducting roadshows in the GCC and African region countries along with DXH Group members and our strategic partner Emirates Airlines. Dubai offers 90-day medical tourism visa, which is renewable for an extra 30 days depending on the procedure and the patient’s case. The healthcare facility in Dubai can assist the medical tourist to apply for medical tourism visa. Travel partners are very important stakeholders in boosting Dubai’s medical tourism industry. They can facilitate the trip for the accompanying family members at the same time and ensure that the stay is more like a rejuvenating holiday experience. Travel agents can create customized healthcare packages with members of the DXH Group. In 2015, 298,359 international medical tourists came to Dubai in 2015. About 43 per cent of the medical tourist came from Asian countries, 29 per cent came from the GCC and Arab countries, 15 per cent from European countries, seven per cent from African countries.
Linda Abdullah Ali Ruhi Consultant-Medical Tourism Council Dubai Health Authority
DHA forecasts a big boom in medical tourism by the year 2021. Dubai Medical Tourism focuses on Gulf states and then on the Asian market, particularly India and Pakistan. Newer targets are the UK, and Africa, particularly Nigeria and Angola. As per newspaper reports, DHA launched Dubai Health Experience with the aim of attracting maximum tourists from abroad. World’s first comprehensive medical tourism portal is also launched to provide the best available service to this group of travellers. It is a more purposeful group of travellers and they require special care and service. In short, it is a health-related activity which involves travel. As per available statistics, Dubai attracted more than 250,000 medical tourists in the first half of 2015 which was more than 12 per cent compared to previous year.
J.V.R. Fernando General Manager Satguru Travel and Tourism
MGallery by Sofitel will be the first health and wellness resort in the UAE. It will be located at the East Crescent of Palm Jumeirah and is slated to open in Q2 2017. The property will feature a wellness centre, which offers a range of treatments and retreat packages. The hotel has partnered with NHP (Natural Health Practice) in providing trademarked wellness products. The resort will also offer a range of all-inclusive retreat packages inclusive of room and board, and activities geared towards emotional and physical wellbeing. In terms of F&B, all the hotel’s dining outlets will offer healthy meal options, with select organic ingredients and fresh produce.
Samir Arora General Manager MGallery by Sofitel
We have customised healthcare services that are both affordable and state-of-the-art, along with access to staff from 20 countries who speak 50 different languages to help our patients feel at home. Our initiatives like tying up with airlines, setting-up information kiosks at airports and collaboration with Satguru Travels to establish 50 representative offices across the globe, has contributed to the overall Dubai’s medical tourism initiative that projects up to nearly 1.3 million medical tourists by 2021, according to Dubai Health Authority (DHA) report.
Akbar Moideen Thumbay Vice President Thumbay Group
The average spend by a medical traveller is $4,000-6,000. Health insurance plays a key role in health tourism development and the maturity of a destination. The introduction of mandatory health insurance and electronic claims are important factors for Dubai as a medical tourism destination. We have seen more investment into private hospitals, and this leads to a healthy competition. On top of that, e-claims provide necessary data to publish key performance indicators for hospitals – both financial and clinical which will empower patients to make informed decisions.
Dr. Saif Aljaibeji Co-founder SEHTEQ Inc
I look forward to maintaining UAE/Dubai activities in this direction of medical tourism, particularly when the potential is so promising and it can be such an important challenge for me professionally. We have to define our target markets/ patient types, find the sources of patients from those markets, learn the competition and win it by creating the additional values for clients and business partners. There should be short, medium and longterm goals and very clever stage-by-stage development. Travel agents and tour operators can provide the part of non-medical services for international patients and their companies.
Dr. Paata Ratiani Director Med Tour
As part of its commitment to help establish Dubai as a leader on the world map of medical tourism, Al Zahra Hospital Dubai (AZHD) has explored opportunities in China. The country has traditionally accessed adjunct healthcare services in Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia. Following the decision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai to grant Chinese tourists visas on arrival, we have seen a major influx of tourists from that region. Dubai has become a preferred tourist destination for Chinese travellers.
Dr. Mohaymen Abdelghany CEO Al Zahra Hospital Dubai