South Korea’s boom in Plastic Surgery

South Korea’s demographic projections make for unsettling reading: with one of the world’s lowest birth rates, its population is set to age more rapidly than that of any other advanced nation over the next 35 years.

The trend, however, will mean a boom in demand for medical services – a dynamic that the government is keen to complement by promoting rapid growth in the country’s medical tourism, pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries.

The most conspicuous area of growth in this sector is reflected by the plastic surgery advertisements that line the subway stations of Seoul’s wealthy southern areas. South Korea has one of the world’s highest number of plastic surgeons per capita, reflecting an image-conscious culture that pushes job applicants to include photographs with their CV even when seeking administrative work.

The huge international success of South Korean pop music and television shows has helped to make plastic surgery one of the most successful export areas for the country’s medical sector, as fans seek to achieve the stars’ glamorous looks.

“About 40 per cent of my customers are now from overseas,” says Park Yang-soo, founder of Dream Plastic Surgery, one of the leading cosmetic surgery companies. China is the most common source of business, with others coming from Japan, southeast Asia and the former Soviet Union. “Chinese customers want an obvious outcome – bigger eyes, a higher nose. But Japanese want something more natural.”

South Korea’s ambitions in medical tourism extend well beyond plastic surgery. Most of the country’s leading hospitals have started wooing foreign tourists with special international health centres. The hospitals promise patients from developing Asian nations treatment that rivals that offered in the world’s richest countries, at a significantly lower price. At Incheon International Airport meanwhile, there is a special information desk for medical tourists, as large as the one catering to all other visitors.

The business has spread well beyond Seoul. Lee Dong-wha set up Dowoo Tour four years ago to cater to tourists seeking plastic surgery in the southern city of Daegu. The company takes care of visa arrangements, hospital and hotel bookings, as well as organising sightseeing trips for recuperating patients. It has an office in Vietnam, and partnerships with agencies in other markets including China and Russia. “Daegu is a medical city – the cost is much cheaper than Seoul, but the medical quality is high,” Mr Lee says.

South Korea’s government this year announced plans to further encourage medical tourism, including a help centre providing legal support to foreign patients unhappy with their treatment, and relaxed visa requirements for medical tourists. The Korea Tourism Organisation is making ambitious forecasts for the sector: it projects that the annual number of medical tourists will rise from 399,000 last year to 998,000 in 2020, with resultant revenue rising from from Won1tn to Won3.5tn.

Tamil Nadu’s Medical Tourism Boom

With a strong medical infrastructure, Tiruchi, a tier-II city, is slowly but steadily emerging as a medical tourism hub next only to Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai in the State.

The emergence of hospitals that boast of quality intensive care units, medical and surgical experts, operation theatres, pre and post-operative care facilities have strengthened the promotional pitch.

Besides extending basic healthcare services, experts say the city has a slew of good hospitals with multi speciality departments to provide quality services at affordable cost. Though the hospitals in Tiruchi primarily promote their names rather than that of medical practitioners, it has well-known experts in various fields such as cardiology, nephrology, pulmonology, ophthalmology and neurology. It has facilities for kidney, liver and eye transplants too.

“There are good signs of Tiruchi being projected as an emerging medical tourism hub. The city boasts of good quality healthcare to treat patients of heart attack and cardiac failure. It can even offer cardiac resynchronisation therapy,” says Senthilkumar Nallusamy, a cardiologist.

Quite a few hospitals in the city are already receiving patients from Southeast Asia and the Middle East including Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Dubai and Kuwait. Many of them are non-resident Indians employed abroad.

“I get 30 to 40 patients from the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries a month. Depending upon their health issues, they stay three to seven days in Tiruchi for investigation and follow up. What we hear from them is that the investigation and treatment cost is much cheaper than their countries,” says M.A. Aleem, a neurologist in Tiruchi.

Good air connectivity to Tiruchi from Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the Middle East is said to be another important reason for patients preferring Tiruchi. Doctors say they can reach their respective hospitals in Tiruchi within four to five hours.

K. Balasubramanian, an orthopaedic surgeon, said the city had good potential to grow as an affordable healthcare centre. “The time has come for the medical fraternity to work out a strategy to attract more foreign patients. The government has to follow a pragmatic approach over issuance of medical visa to foreign patients,” he added.

Medical Tourism to expand to 160 billion dollar from current 50 billion dollar in next 6 years.

Medical tourism is one of the markets of the future: following last year’s successful launch of the important and fast-growing Medical Tourism segment, growing demand means it has had to relocate to a larger hall (21b). Lectures and presentations will take place there, and visitors will be able to get detailed information on clinics, destinations and medical health insurances. The Health Tourism Industry Conference (HTI) is this year’s official partner of the Medical Tourism Pavilion. HTI, which this year is organising conferences in Zagreb and Brussels, specialises in medical congresses all over Europe. Taking place for the first time, the Medical Media Lunch will be held on Wednesday, 7 March, followed by the ITB Medical Night on Friday, 9 March.

Medical tourism offers huge prospects for the global tourism industry. According to the latest report by VISA and Oxford Economics, current turnover in the world’s medical tourism industry is around 50 billion dollars. Over the next ten years growth is forecast to reach up to 25 per cent per annum. The international rise in demand for Medical Tourism places at the World’s Largest Travel Trade Show reflects this trend.

Foreign Tourist crosses 1 crore in one year

In happy tidings for India’s tourism sector, the year 2017 ended on a high with the number of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) crossing the 10-million mark, which pushed the country’s earnings to over 27 billion dollars.
The sector is looking to ramp up tourist arrivals this year+ with new and niche projects. “I think our sector is doing very well. But am I happy with the numbers? I want these numbers to increase dramatically because India is an incredible place and we have everything for everybody. So we are trying to bring in lot more people,” Union tourism minister KJ Alphons said in Kochi on Tuesday.
The minister also said the sector is contributing 6.88 per cent to India’s GDP and had a 12 per cent share of jobs in the total employment figures in 2017.
The increase in numbers has helped India ramp up its overall ranking on the Tourism Competitiveness Index, 2017. It jumped 25 places from 65 in 2013 to 40 in 2017. Ministry sources attributed the improvement to the government’s renewed focus on developing infrastructure besides promoting theme-based and religious circuits under the Swadesh Darshan scheme. “Eleven projects have been sanctioned under this scheme in 2017-18 alone, taking the total number up to 67 projects. The plan is for holistic development of pilgrimage destinations, the Buddhist circuit being a case in point,” a ministry official said.
Sources in the ministry also said the government is ‘Looking East’ in the tourism sector to promote India’s north-eastern states. As part of the efforts to introduce new concepts to engage the larger world, India’s golf courses have found mention in the ministry’s ‘Incredible India’ campaign alongside the heritage monuments.
Officials said while they plan to invite foreign tourists to tee off from India’s manicured golf courses, the effort is also to push niche products — women’s Polo — by popularising for tourists visiting India. “The women’s polo team from Manipur has won critical acclaim for its performance. After the United States Polo Association (USPA) team played against the state’s women’s polo team, the sport has got an additional boost. The plan is for the ministry to rope in the Manipur players to popularise the sport from a tourism point of view,” an official said.

Increase in Tourists for Kerala

An increase of 11.39 per cent has been recorded in domestic tourist arrivals to Kerala in 2017, as compared to the figures of previous year, according to figures compiled by Kerala Tourism. Meanwhile, foreign tourist arrivals increased by 5.15 per cent during the period.
“Travellers from across the globe arrived in Kerala in large numbers during 2017, and the growth has been recorded at 5.15 per cent compared with the figures of last year. This comes at a time when the tourism industry is suffering from adverse factors like enhanced GST rates and allied hurdles. The growth figures point to the immense popularity Kerala Tourism enjoys beyond the borders”, said Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Cooperation and Devaswoms.
With growth almost doubling than that of last year, domestic tourist arrivals have, in fact, achieved more than what has been targeted in the Kerala Tourism Policy. On the foreign tourist arrivals front, footfalls have increased from 10,38,419 to 10,91,870. The figures point to the fact that there has been an increase of 53,451 more foreign tourists this year, with figures nearing 11 lakh.

Tourism Ministry targetting to double the Tourism Business in three years

The Centre aims to double the number of foreign tourist arrivals (FTA) to 20 million in the next three years, Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons on Sunday said at an investment meet here.

All stakeholders must work hard to achieve the target, the minister said.

“We have earned $27 billion in the last financial year but we are not happy with these figures.

“We want the figures to increase dramatically,” Alphons said here during a session on tourism and wellness on the concluding day of the Global Investors Summit-Advantage Assam.

Wellness Tourism Association

A new association will be a network of, and for, qualifying members of the wellness tourism industry. Its objectives will help to define the industry, as well as educate consumers to recognize legitimate and credible wellness suppliers and operators.

A group of seasoned wellness industry executives have joined forces to create the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA). Registered in the State of Colorado as a not-for-profit, privately-held organization, the WTA has been established and designed to serve this booming travel sector.

“Our mission is clear and concise,” says Co-Founder and Chairman Andrew Gibson, VP Wellbeing, Accor Hotels, “We plan to support and further the growth and development of the wellness tourism industry through networking, education, communication and marketing.”

Co-Founding member Tom Klein, President & COO of Canyon Ranch stated, “The WTA will fill a gap in this global industry by providing a credible and unified voice.” Klein added, “As with all associations, the goals and objectives will be determined by the members.”

According to the Global Wellness Institute’s 2017 Global Wellness Economy Monitor, the Wellness Tourism segment is a $563 billion industry — growing faster than the tourism industry itself. “It makes perfect sense to have our own association,” says Co-Founder and President, Anne Dimon, Founder/CEO of “Especially since there is some confusion with consumers and travel agents as to what constitutes legitimate ‘wellness travel.”

Nilendu Srivastava, Managing Director of The Art of Living Retreat Center, a year-round wellness retreat facility in Boone, North Carolina is another Founding Member.

The association’s first tourism office member – the Monaco Government Tourist Office – will be represented by Cindy Hoddeson, Monaco’s Director, North America. The wellness history of this city-state dates back to 1860 and the Etablissement des Bains, Monaco’s first baths where people traveled to benefit from the curative powers of the Mediterranean.

Madeleine Marentette, owner of Grail Springs — recent recipient of Canada’s Best Wellness Retreat 2017 — will also sit on the first Board of Directors – – as will Jim Forberg, Founding Partner and COO of Unicomm LLC, producers of the long-running Travel & Adventure Show and introducing a wellness element to their shows in 2018.

Wellness Tourism is not a new industry, as people have traveled both nationally and internationally with health or wellness the primary focus since the time of the Roman Baths. Today, the commitment to ‘health as your wealth’ transcends borders, cultures and ages, with many new companies flocking to the sector.