Medical travel in focus at the Arabian Travel Market

ATM 2017 offers a healthy outlook

Medical Tourism is now an established travel industry sector of the annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM). This year saw a rise in exhibitors specialising in this area –  medical travel representation companies, individual medi-spas, clinics and medical destinations.

Exhibiting as a dedicated health and wellness destination, The Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) showcased its developments as it progresses in its vision to become an internationally recognised location for quality healthcare.

With more than 165 clinical partners which include hospitals, outpatient centres, diagnostic laboratories across 120 specialties, it is attracting reputable international names, such as Moorfields Eye Hospital. Dubai Healthcare City describes itself as an integrated centre of excellence for clinical and wellness services, medical education and research. Spread over 4 million square feet, it is located in the heart of Dubai in Oud Metha and is the largest of its kind in this area.

Dubai is examining the wellness sector at a deeper level, striving for the optimal state of health for individuals and communities. This has moved DHCC’s development plans to Phase 2 which is dedicated to wellness and occupies 19 million square feet in Al Jaddaf Dubai, overlooking Dubai Creek.

Following a similar healthy pathway, news during ATM revealed the Health Authority Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority signed an agreement to establish a medical tourism network to serve patients from abroad. The new system will ensure that visas, hospital bookings, translation services and aftercare are handled efficiently. Medical Tourism is an integral part of Abu Dhabi’s 2030 vision to diversify its economy. To further establish the significance of the medical travel sector in Abu Dhabi, Cleveland Hospital also attended with an aim to increase its share of the international market.

The average length of stay for medical tourists is between seven and 10 days. The country currently only captures a small share of the market while Dubai leads the region.

IMTEC showcases centers of excellence in Medical Tourism

The 2016 International Medical Travel Exhibition & Conference (IMTEC) provided a conducive platform bringing together international hospital groups and facilities to connect with medical travel organizations and health services companies to create business partnerships, increase international patient networks and to enhance the global presence of medical tourism.

IMTEC saw 15 new exhibitors adding to the total of 27, reflecting the importance of this growing sector. Poland, Belarus and Ukraine were among the new destinations. British Airways exhibited for the first time, joining Lufthansa to demonstrate the growing interest in this sector from airlines. India, Korea and Thailand included a wider range of facilities from new hotels, products and health facilities under their individual pavilions.

The Sheikh Khalifa Speciality Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah took the spotlight as a successful case study of an emerging destination for regional and international travelers seeking world-class quality patient care. The medical facility is now considered a center of excellence in medical tourism.

A 2-day master-class schedule ran alongside the exhibition. Presentations addressed a range of subjects to include a case study of hair transplant procedures, trends in marketing for healthcare providers, medical insurance and best practice for the medical facilitator.

“The growing medical tourism industry promises bright prospects for international stakeholders as the world population continues to age and quality healthcare services become affordable in many areas around the world, giving potential patients not only the chance to save money but also avoid long waits for treatments. This event provides insights as well as showcases the latest trends in the global medical tourism sector for those keen to take advantage of the opportunities it presents,” says Eben Botha, Exhibition Director, Informa Life Sciences, organizers of IMTEC.

Welcoming the delegates and exhibiting companies at IMTEC to Dubai were His Excellency Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qatami, Director General of the Dubai Health Authority; and His Excellency Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing who led the opening ceremonies and a walk through of this year’s edition of the region’s leading medical tourism exhibition and conference.

Medical tourism has been a bright spot for the global hospitality industry in recent years, with experts estimating the market to be valued at $45.5 to 72 billion, based on approximately 14 million cross-border patients worldwide spending an average of $3,800-6,000 per visit, including medically-related costs, cross-border and local transport, inpatient stay and accommodations.

Some of the top destinations that have become developed during the growth phase of the medical tourism sector include India, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and the United States.

With the emergence of more centers of excellence in the UAE, experts attending agree the Emirates is likely to lead the growth of medical tourism in this part of the world. IMTEC 2017 aims to see a growth in exhibitors from new destinations, increased numbers of CMTs and visitors next year.


The Rise of Dental Tourism

Mariusz Szczygiel

Drilling into Dental Tourism


Bridges, braces, crowns, fillings or implants, dental care can be expensive, especially if extensive reconstructive or cosmetic work is required.

With a global population living 10-30 years longer, cost savings and ease of travel are key determining factors which have led to the rise of dental tourism.  More and more patients are travelling to destination hubs which are promoting dentistry at lower and very competitive prices using the latest technology, promising less painful treatment! Dentists are highly trained in Western countries and provide excellent services at a fraction of the cost.

Due to the increasing number of low-cost airlines providing services to new routes, Europeans are finding it easier to travel across borders.  The savings are then used to fund hotels, travel and short break holidays with friends and family. However, North Americans who are burdened with huge dental costs travel for more extensive care such as full-mouth restorations, cosmetic oral surgeries and implants. Such work can be done at less than half the US price, including travel and accommodation.

Dental tourism is on the rise particularly in Hungary, and notably its capital, Budapest. It has been estimated that around 50,000 visitors to Budapest per year are those seeking dental treatment. Here, average dental prices are 50% – 70% cheaper than in the UK. Hungary boasts more dentists per capita than any other country but more destinations are promoting their services.