Medical tourists along with their families and household service workers from the Gulf who opt to secure health and wellness in Thailand are allowed to stay in the country for 90 days without visa.
They will feel at home in the Southeast Asian kingdom while recovering for almost three months from any medical treatment or procedure, as Arabic is widely used in many of the health facilities.
The newly-appointed Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)-International Marketing for Europe/Middle East/Americas deputy governor, Tanes Petsuwas, told The Gulf Today on Sunday evening: “Besides the visa policy, we also ensure that quality of service and international standards of medical treatment are provided through the regular surveillance of health institutions and recruitment of board-certified nurses.”
He said that the average spending of each of the 857,086 medical tourists and their respective companions in 2015 was 19,864 Bahts (Dhs2,000).
While each wellness tourist spent an average of 1,658 Bahts (Dhs170), Bangkok earned an income of 63,490.09 million Bahts (Dhs7 million) from the 16 million medical and wellness tourists in 2015.
Petsuwan, along with an 11-member delegation of health and wellness facilities as well as hotels, one of which is halal, were in Dubai International Medical Travel Exhibition & Conference held from Oct 9 to 10. On Bangkok’s medical tourism travel requirements, Petsuwan said: “We have eased the limitations for nationals from the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia so they can enjoy their medical treatment(s) in Thailand (for almost three months) without visa.
“The regulation also allows a patient to have not more than three individuals who are not GCC nationals (parents, children, spouse or housemaid), accompanying him or her to stay in Thailand for 90 days without visa as well,” he added.
On the focus of the country in continually upgrading its international medical tourism programme with local governments, the Thailand delegation head said: “We are constantly on the look-out for mutual areas of cooperation and are open for discussions or future collaborations.”
The Southeast Asian kingdom whose main economic trigger is tourism has become a repeat Imtec participant since it has identified medical tourism as a “high-yield niche market that improves tourism spend.”
Petsuwan said: “The GCC market is one of the key source markets of TAT for medical tourism and we plan to expand our promotion by further promoting our products at Imtec.”
The delegation proceeds to Oman on Tuesday and to Kuwait on Wednesday to continue its Middle East road show.
Thailand’s edge over the other medical tourism destinations, aside from Arabic widely used across the kingdom, are its geographical location and topography, pioneering technology in all medical specialities, access to premium healthcare, and friendly human resources.
Petsuwan specifically mentioned that the rejuvenating add-ons to all medical and wellness tourists and their companions in the country are the “variety of lush, natural attractions, marine hotspots, historic landmarks, including our natural biosphere and hot geysers.”
Bangkok hopes to attract more health and wellness tourists from the Middle East. It is expecting over 928,734 medical tourists and more than 17 million tourists from around the world at the end of 2016.
Its target for 2017 is one million people for medical tourism and over 25 million for the wellness segment.
In 2015, there were 29.8 million visitor arrivals from around the globe who ballooned the Thailand’s tourism receipts to 1.44 trillion Bahts (Dhs5,165 billion).
From January to July 2016, the data was at 19.5 million international tourists who generated 973 billion Bahts (Dhs102 billion) for the country’s income.