Malaysia's health tourism sector is making preparations

KUALA LUMPUR-There is no doubt that the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world has posed a challenge to the healthcare tourism sector as many countries, including Malaysia, have closed their international borders to curb the spread of the virus.

Amalina Mohamed
12 Oct 2021 09:58am
Malaysia's health tourism sector is making preparations
Malaysia's health tourism sector is making preparations

KUALA LUMPUR-There is no doubt that the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world has posed a challenge to the healthcare tourism sector as many countries, including Malaysia, have closed their international borders to curb the spread of the virus.

After nearly two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country is now moving into a life phase in an endemic environment, meaning it is critical for the medical tourism segment to examine improvement measures based on experience during that period, to offer a safer and better experience to medical visitors. .

The Malaysian Healthcare Tourism Council (MHTC) is working on an industry recovery plan to highlight the full potential of the Malaysian healthcare and hospitality segment.

Its chief executive officer Mohd Daud Mohd Arif said the organization was "moving into the digital realm through dynamic discussions with stakeholders", to ensure the presence of the country's medical tourism segment across target markets.

“Our current mission is to revitalize the sector by leveraging on the existing confidence and trust in Malaysia as a safe and reliable medical tourism destination. By building trust among medical tourists through continuous effective communication, as well as dedication in providing a safe experience, we are confident that we will be able to see a more positive attitude towards medical tourism when movement restrictions are lifted.

"We remain optimistic that the Malaysian healthcare industry will recover based on the reputation we have built over the past 10 years, our world-class services and accessible and affordable medical treatment," he told Bernama in a recent interview.

Safe and reliable destination Malaysia has built a strong reputation as a safe and trusted global destination for healthcare over the past 10 years, with visitors coming for a range of treatments including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, neurology, dentistry, aesthetics and screening. general health.Recommended this article:

In this regard, MHTC aims to revitalize the sector by building confidence, particularly in target markets such as Indonesia, China, Cambodia, Singapore and Brunei.

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Malaysia has received various global awards as a healthcare destination over the years and was recognized as ‘Destination of the Year’ from 2015 to 2017 and in 2020 by the International Medical Travel Journal, United Kingdom; ‘Best Country in the World for Healthcare’ from 2015 to 2020 by US -based International Living; besides always being recognized as the ‘Top Country for Muslim Travel’ in the Global Muslim Tourism Index by MasterCard-Crescent Rating since 2011.

Mohd Daud said much of the growth and progress of the industry was contributed by Malaysia's reputation as a world -class healthcare service provider that was easily accessible and at a competitive cost.

"This is also highlighted by our strategic position as a Muslim -friendly country, our friendliness and well -known tourist attractions," he said, adding that among Malaysia's competitors in the medical tourism industry are Singapore, Thailand, Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and South Korea.

He said MHTC was also working closely with member hospitals to identify other markets that could be focused on such as the Middle East, which further emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships in boosting the sector as a key driver of post-Covid-19 economic growth.

According to him, it is very important for MHTC to continue to build existing confidence and trust through digital potential and services to ensure continuous efforts to maintain awareness among health tourists.

Travel bubble initiative Commenting on the travel bubble initiative, Mohd Daud said the move would not only benefit the medical tourism industry but also contribute to the country's growth as part of the economic recovery.

(The travel bubble is a collaboration between two or more countries that allows quarantine-free travel for both directions) However, he said, at present, the country's priority was to ensure that it achieved the Covid-19 immunization target set.

On the promotion of medical tourism, Mohd Daub said, the effort has already been implemented in Malaysia with patients seeking treatment at the hospital of their choice or with the physicians they want.

“When cross -state restrictions are lifted, we are confident that local patients will seek treatment at the facility of their choice.

"We also promote and encourage expatriates residing in Malaysia to take advantage of the healthcare services offered by our private medical facilities," he said, adding that MHTC was established specifically to facilitate foreign medical visitors to seek treatment at private hospitals in the country.

Mohd Daud also said that his party expects healthcare service providers to make the necessary adjustments when Malaysia reaches postandemic normality.

“The healthcare facility will ensure that it has standard operating procedures (SOPs) and infrastructure to support and provide a safer and enhanced experience for patients, driven by excellent service delivery.

"Tourism offerings must also be adapted to the ever -changing needs of consumers, as a result of the pandemic. Public safety is our priority and we believe the authorities will adopt the right mechanisms to ensure the right protocols are in place along with the reopening of the border, ”he said.

Green list countries Meanwhile, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Melaka Akmal Adanan said the cross-state tourism and permission bubble initiative should be leveraged with the implementation of the health tourism bubble for greenlisted countries and those who have been fully vaccinated.

(Green list countries refer to countries and territories that are safe to visit without having to undergo quarantine when returning home) He said the health tourism bubble gave an advantage to patients and service providers as the presence of visitors for that purpose would take place in a controlled environment.

“Hospitals and travel service providers need to have strategies such as working with travel agencies to introduce inclusive, attractive and affordable packages to a larger market segment.

“A comprehensive medical tourism package can include health screenings, accommodation facilities, transportation and activities

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