Phuket Medical Tourism Hub

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Phuket is set to become a medical tourism hub in the region after having gained a place in the world tourism map as a well-known island resort.

Governor Tri Augkaradacha said that with the state-of-the-art medical facilities which met international standards, blended with Thai hospitality and reasonable medical fees, the island could be turned into a medical tourism hub besides offering its famous sun, sea and sand.

Medical tourism hub in Phuket

 

There are seven public and private hospitals with more than 1,000 beds in the island to cater to the medical needs of the 6.5 million tourists who visit the island every year.

“The most popular medical treatments sought by tourists are plastic surgery and dental care,” he said.

However, he could not provide details of medical tourists and revenue as compared to Thailand, as a whole, which received a total of 1.5 million medical tourists with a medical tourism revenue of 65 billion Baht (about RM6.5 billion) for last year.

Bangkok Hospital, the largest private hospital in Asia, treated 62,000 foreign medical tourists at its Phuket branch last year.

Deputy Director of Bangkok Hospital Phuket, Dr Bodin La-led, said the sum represented 35 per cent of total patients.

Most of the medical tourists were from Britain, Australia, Germany, the United States, France, Sweden, Russia, Italy, Switzerland and Denmark, he said.

“Foreign tourists mostly prefer to come for elective and alternative medical treatment, particularly dental, cosmetic and plastic reconstructive, vision correction, hip and knee replacement and heart surgery,” he said.

Dr Bodin said the hospital hit one billion Baht (about RM100 million) in revenue from medical tourism last year and has forecast its revenue to increase by another 10 per cent this year.

“We have all the ingredients – beautiful island, international medical facilities, reasonable medical bills and Thai hospitality – to turn this island into a medical tourism hub in the region,” he said.

He said the medical tourism industry on the island seemed to be picking up after the December 2004 tsunami struck the island.

As Phuket is famous as a diving destination, the government-owned Vachira Phuket Hospital has added a special service to cater to divers’ medical needs by setting up the Hyperbaric Medicine Centre in 2002.

“For example, if divers come up (to the surface) very quickly after a five- to 10-metre dive, they could suffer permanent brain damage.

“However, the divers can recover fully after undergoing hyperbaric chamber treatment if they are brought to the hospital within six hours of the incident,” said Dr Nara Kingkeaw, the deputy director of the hospital.

“Our charges are three to four times lower than the private hospitals,” said Dr Nara, adding that hyperbaric oxygen therapy could also be used to treat patients with gas gangrene, throat cancer and autism.

Phuket is also promoting the island as an important wellness destination as part of its medical tourism package.

Managing Director of Sukko Spa, Tachapon Tephabutra, said its Sukko Cultural Spa and Wellness Resort here offered traditional massage, herbal steam, body scrub, mask and meditative exercise.

As the 2004 tsunami is still fresh in the people’s minds, Governor Tri said, 19 tsunami warning towers had been placed around the island and they were tested monthly to ensure they were in good working order.

“The 500 sq km island holds a full-scale tsunami warning and evacuation drill at least twice a year,” he said.

The expansion of Phuket International Airport and construction of a light rail project and a convention centre were in the pipeline to enhance the island’s capabilities in meeting the needs of the increasing number of tourists, he added.

Source: Bernama

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Updated: January 7, 2013 by admin

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