Chinese medical tourism on the rise in Thailand

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Despite Thailand’s current sluggish tourism intake, along with a strong baht, Chinese medical tourism continues to grow. From rhinoplasty to liposuction, eye-surgery to heart bypasses, Thailand’s reputation for affordable and reputable cosmetic surgery, and specialty clinics, draws tourists from all over the world.

As of 2019, with 64 accredited hospitals, Thailand is currently among the top 10 medical tourism destinations in the world.

For many, it can be cheaper to fly to Thailand, have their consultations and surgery, along with a vacation, and return, than it is to get the procedure done in their own country. Of Thailand’s 35 million tourists in 2018, 9% were estimated to have been medical tourists, a large portion who were Chinese visitors.

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A loose definition of a Medical Tourist would be someone who travels to another country with the primary purpose of undertaking some form of medical, cosmetic or dental procedure. Common procedure types, include plastic surgery, dental procedures, tertiary medical care and fertility procedures.

It’s estimated that Thailand receives 350,000 dedicated Medical Tourists each year, spending an average of $1,700 in hospitals and clinics across the country, with Bangkok seeing the majority of this money. South Korea still leads the way, but for how much longer?

Economic shifts in mainland China could be a significant factor in this new wave of Chinese medical tourism. Even though the baht is currently strong, Thailand undercuts China by such a large margin that its still worth the trip.

With Thailand’s negative reaction to zero-dollar Chinese tourism, encouraging medical tourism seems to be a step in the right direction. 2016 saw the Thai government take extraordinary measures to crack down upon low quality Chinese tour companies, with mass arrests, company closures and bus seizures.

Last year China’s ‘two-child policy’ caused Chinese medical tourists coming to the Kingdom to seek fertility treatment to surge. Middle-aged couples flocked to Thai clinics in hope that they could conceive whilst still fertile.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

Check the prices for a procedure or clinic in Thailand HERE.

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