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Australia seeks to cash in on medical tourism

22-Aug-2008

The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has established an industry panel to help develop the nation's health and wellness travel sector, it has been reported.

ATEC is keen for Australia to benefit from the global medical tourism industry, particularly since a KPMG expert recently claimed that so-called 'baby boomers' from the US, UK and China would increasingly be seeking treatment abroad, eTravelBlackboard.com reports.

Matthew Hingerty, managing director of ATEC, told the website: "It is critical that Australia understands and caters for these trends and, like other countries, we need to recognise that our ageing domestic population and narrowing tax base will place increasing strain on our health system."

Mr Hingerty lamented that the government has so far been slow to act on the medical tourism trend and that other nations, including New Zealand, have "stolen a march on us with their government backing private sector efforts to enter global travel markets".

However, he expressed confidence in Australia's ability to develop its medical tourism provision, noting: "It's not so much the more invasive and catastrophic procedures but those routine elective procedures that are becoming increasingly expensive in places like the United States," ABC News reports.

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