KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — Malaysia’s medical tourism revenue is estimated to decline up to 75 per cent this year during the Covid-19 pandemic from 2019, according to the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC).
Malaysia is one of the famous and most sought after destinations for medical tourism, comprising 60 per cent of arrivals from Indonesia; Malaysia has a dual health care system comprising the public and private sectors.
Apart from medical tourists from Southeast Asean countries, Malaysia also caters to tourists from Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States under various medical specialisations.
“With travel restrictions in place as well as the changes in consumer behaviour, we expect the health care travel market to be smaller in 2020 and beyond. As such, we have revised our revenue for 2020 to RM500 million by the end of the year, which is 70 to 75 per cent less than 2019,” MHTC chief executive officer Sherene Azli said in a recent interview with CodeBlue.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were on track to see exponential growth, especially since the nation was on its way to boost the travel and tourism industry here via ‘Visit Malaysia Year 2020’ and ‘Malaysia Year of Healthcare Travel 2020’ (MyHT2020).”
It is to be noted that the-then Pakatan Harapan government promised to allocate RM25 million to MHTC in conjunction with the Malaysia Year of Healthcare Travel 2020.
The country’s medical tourism generated RM1.5 billion in revenue in 2018 from 1.2 million health care travellers, according to the former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
He also previously noted that medical tourism was a “rapidly expanding” sector here, growing 17 per cent annually from 2015 to 2018.
In Malaysia, like other foreign visitors, medical tourists must get screened for Covid-19 with a swab test at their country of origin or at the main gates of Malaysia. Medical tourists will then be sent to their selected hospitals for quarantine and treatment.
“In terms of the health care travel bubble, we are currently accepting health care travellers from all countries, but with added caution with regards to patient entry. As stated in our current SOPs, patient entry is subject to Immigration approval facilitated by MHTC,” Sherene stated.
“This is in the greater interest of the nation and as always, the safety of Malaysians is our topmost priority.”
However, as the pandemic is expected to last another year, MHTC has taken a few measures to improve medical tourism in the country. MHTC stated that Malaysian health care capabilities and strengths are at a world class level.
“We are also preparing for a healthy industry rebound through proactive and dedicated digital brand presence in our target markets as well as the adoption of telehealth by all hospitals to stay ahead of the curve and ensure continuity of care.”
MHTC listed several measures to be taken in the next five years to keep Malaysia as the top health care provider globally by establishing Malaysia’s identity as the fertility and cardiology hubs of Asia, centre of excellence for oncology, as well as building trust in the nation’s health care system, and leveraging their digital assets.
“insigHT2020, our annual medical travel market intelligence conference will be held virtually this year from 23rd-26th November.”
“For Medical Travel Media Awards 2020, we will also be hosting our awards presentation ceremony virtually this 10th December. This is our second year running the first-in-the-world medical travel media awards which aims to recognise medical travel journalism excellence.” said Sherene.
MHTC also expressed its wish to enable the country’s economy and to resume health care travel activities in a safe manner for both inbound patients and national security.
“We believe that with Malaysia’s quality health care offerings and standard in hospitality, we will see an encouraging inflow of health care travellers post the Covid-19 period.
MHTC won the ‘Destination of the Year’ and ‘Cluster of the Year’ awards again this year, each for the fourth time by the International Medical Travel Journal.
“These wins, together with those won by our member hospitals, fortify our position as the World’s Healthcare Marvel, as it signifies the global trust in our country’s excellent health care travel infrastructure and exemplary patient journey experience.”