Medical tourism a 'shining star' for Thai tourism industry


Thailand's tourism industry benefits hugely from medical tourism, a top official has claimed.

Figures from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) show that nearly three and a half million people visited the country between January and April 2007, and many of these were seeking treatment abroad.

TAT governor Phornsiri Manoharn claimed that Thailand's high standard of medical care has made it well-known around the world.

"This, together with the renowned Thai hospitality, has played a vital part in the promotion of private health services to the wider world," he told the Bangkok Post.

"Thailand also offers excellent service at a reasonable price. In some countries, patients have to wait many months for treatment. Not so in Thailand, where treatment and access to professional help is available immediately," he added.

Figures suggest that around three and a half per cent of visitors to Thailand come from the Middle East, and Mr Manoharn revealed that they tend to be "big spenders" and bring several relatives while they undergo medical treatment.

He noted that many Middle Eastern visitors make several trips to Thailand every year to attend to their medical needs, although he claimed that even more would visit if the country's food manufacturers paid more attention to halal food.

He concluded: "At present, medical tourism continues to be a shining star for the Thai tourism industry, attracting high-value tourists to the kingdom who stay longer and spend more than other tourist categories."

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