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132 2017-02-08 [Upfront] Assessment of the Rise of Medical Tourism in Korea

[Upfront] Assessment of the Rise of Medical Tourism in Korea

Arirang TV's current affairs program, 'UPFRONT' aired an episode on the rise of medical tourism in Korea. Professor Oh Ik-geun of Tourism Management at Keimyung University and Dr. John Linton, director of the Korea Foundation for International Healthcare joined the discussion.
The number of foreign tourists coming to Korea for the purposes of tourism and medical services has risen for the past 5 years. While Chinese people account for the bulk of over 300,000 tourists, who visit Korea for medical services annually, it seems that visitors from the United Arab Emirates spend the largest amount of money with medical tourism, spending more than 15,000 USD per tourist. Although Korea's medical tourism industry is steadily growing within the fiercely competitive international medical tourism market, there are things Korea must remedy in order to secure sustainment and competitiveness.
Dr. Linton emphasized the increasing number of foreign visitors seeking out Korea for medical tours as he commented that while in the past, the number of people leaving Korea on medical tours was far bigger, the situation has now changed and that is because of the advances in Korea's medical science and the skills of Korean doctors. Meanwhile, Prof. Oh pointed out the profitability and value of the medical tourism industry as he added his own comment that Korea's medical tour industry will continue to grow and that it is an industry with high growth potential because medical tourists usually stay longer and spend more in Korea.
They moved on to discuss the trends in the global medical tourism industry. Dr. Linton emphasized the value of the medical tourism industry and reiterated that it is a highly profitable industry because medial tourists stay longer and they are often accompanied by others. In regards to Thailand, which is considered to be the No. 1 medical tourism country in Asia, Prof. Oh commented that medical tour costs in Thailand are more affordable and that the country is popular as a travel destination because of its image as an exotic vacation spot.They also discussed the fact that Americans are the ones that travel the most on medical tours and Dr. Linton added that there are many problems regarding medical insurance in the US such as Obama Care and that Americans without medical insurance can't help but seek out foreign countries for medical care.
The discussion ended with advices to the Korean medical tourism industry. Prof. Oh said, "We must expand our infra to accommodate foreign medical tourists, especially in various areas such as training staff, hotels and restaurants." Dr. Linton commented that cooperation between the government and private sector is most important.

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