Medical service providers, hotels and travel agents are establishing their own association to develop and promote Thailand as a medical tourism destination, and particularly to attract medical tourists from high-spending markets including the Middle East, Russia, Western Europe, China and Japan.
Prapa Wongphet, president of the Thailand Medical Tourism Cluster
, who will become president of The Thailand Federation of Medical Tourism Association, explains that the association which is in the process of being registered with the Commerce Ministry, will be officially launched by the end of this year, "We are now ready to move forward after working closely with our partners to design the master plan to develop and promote Thailand as a world-class medical tourism destination."
It will take over from the Thailand Medical Tourism Cluster that was set up a year ago by the Institute of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, and now has 15 travel and medical services associations as members. Among the cluster's membership are the Thai Hotels Association, the Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons of Thailand, the Thai Clinical Physicians Association, the Association of Thai Travel Agents, the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association and the Thai Spa Federation. The major stakeholders in medical tourism, the hospitals, have joined forces with supporting organizations, including hotel/rehabilitation facilities, travel agents, nurses, ambulance operators, medical specialists, Thai traditional medicine specialists, spa operators, and the Translators and Interpreters Association. Government agencies and educational institutes support the collaboration. It aims to enhance the quality of medical tourism in Thailand and assist foreigners seeking medical services in Thailand.
Under the promotion plan, the cluster had organised business matching between local medical service and tourism operators and overseas travel agents and insurance companies, especially from Russia, Iran and China. Producing booklets and conducting road shows in key markets also formed part of the initiative. The new association plans to build on this good start.
Prakit Chinamornpong of the Thai Hotels Association
says that better-promoted medical tourism will enable hotels and other accommodation businesses to enjoy longer stays by foreign visitors who want to travel and experience Thai hospitality as well as receiving medical treatment or being a health tourist. The Tourism Authority of Thailand
says medical tourism is an area where visitors tend to spend more and stay longer than normal tourists.
Although recent flooding has caused problems in and North of Bangkok, it is likely to cause local difficulties only for a few weeks.