Could visa rules deter medical tourists?

 

In a resounding demonstration of Asia’s growing power and influence on the world stage, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea now hold joint top spot on the Henley Passport Index for visa-free/visa-on-arrival scores.

For medical and health tourism, both for visitors and investment, the Henley Passport Index suggests that countries need to take much more notice of visa rules being applied by their competitors, before they begin deciding target countries.

For example, China is seen as the biggest potential medical tourism market source and one that many countries are fighting over. Chinese outbound health and medical tourists now have visa-free access to 74 destinations, however there are still 154 destinations that require a visa or e-visa.

Another source target is Russia. Russians have visa-free access to 118 destinations, but still need a visa for 108 destinations. In contrast, potential USA medical travellers only need a visa in 42 destinations.

Henley Passport Index on visa rules

The 2019 Henley Passport Index and Global Mobility Report is a unique publication that brings together commentary from leading scholars and professional experts on the major trends shaping global and regional mobility patterns.

The Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information, and this is then enhanced by extensive research by global residence and citizenship planning consultants, Henley & Partners.

The Henley Passport is updated in real-time, as and when visa-policy changes come into effect. Along with the Kälin – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index, also published by Henley & Partners, it is considered a major reference tool for global citizens and the standard reference for governments.

The Index website provides up-to-date, printable lists of the countries people can access visa-free, with an e-visa, with a visa on arrival, or with a normal visa.

Targeting international investment for health and medical tourism

An increasing number of countries seek international entrepreneurs and businesses to develop local health and medical tourism, but success levels vary significantly. Many politicians talk about attracting such people and companies, but few really know how to attract foreign investors in this highly competitive sector.

Problems with visas for themselves, key employees and customers are thought to put off international investors, but it is very much an area with poor information.

The Henley Passport Index may help shed some light on the matter and perhaps those politicians and their teams should study this website. It is not a static situation; just before publication of this article, news arrived that from June, Brazil will remove the need for a visa for travellers from the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan; a recent move from paper to electronic visas contributed to an increase in US visitors by 35%.

Visa access has a direct connection with travel flow

The situation on visas and related rules is known to directly affect the number of tourists and the number of medical tourists.

Dr. Christian Kalin of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the Passport Index concept, says: "With some notable exceptions, there is a growing acknowledgment that policies of engagement, collaboration, and openness yield the greatest results, for both individual nations and the global community as a whole. The current strength of Asian passports is emblematic of this progressive shift, and it seems certain that more and more countries will follow suit in order to benefit from global flows of talent and capital."

Asian visa-waiver agreements taking the lead

As well as illustrating the widespread adoption of open visa policies, the latest rankings reflect the transformative effect that Asian development and growth is having on networks of transcontinental cooperation and connectivity. With all Asian countries topping the index, there is a clear momentum behind the region taking centre stage in globalisation.

The steady rise of China through its visa-waiver agreements shows how incremental and reciprocal measures can lead to significant increases in numbers.

The increasing importance of Asia and China in global movement and tourism is mirrored by an economic move away from the USA/Western Europe axis to the China/Russia/Asia one.

The moving axis is best shown by Italy being the first European country to join China’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the largest infrastructure project in history. BRI is pushing Asian, European, Arab, and African countries to continue to seek more seamless access to each other’s countries. This will benefit both China and all countries participating in the rising trade, including healthcare, along the new Silk Roads.

BRI is also having an increasing impact in the Middle East. The recent ratification of the visa-waiver agreement signed between the UAE and Russia is a direct outcome of strengthening trade and diplomatic relations between the UAE and Russia, and a strategic attempt by the UAE to replicate its success as a key trading, logistics, and financial hub in the Middle East to Asia.

Rather than compete politically and economically in the part of the world that is growing the fastest in population and economic growth, China, Russia and the UAE are working together, although perhaps with some suspicion and reluctance. The UAE’s formalisation of a strategic partnership with China may benefit it as the bridge linking people and trade between Asia and the Middle East.

Top 10 countries for access

Japan, Singapore, and South Korea hold joint top spot on the Henley Passport. For Q2 2019, following a visa-exemption from Uzbekistan, Germany is in 4th place. Five countries share 5th place 87: Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, and Sweden. The UK is now in 10th place and the USA in 11th.

The UAE continues its upward trajectory and, after the visa-waiver agreement with Russia, UAE passport holders are now able to access 165 destinations around the world without a prior visa.

Albania has moved up 28 places on the index over the past ten years, with citizens of this once closed-off nation now able to access 116 destinations without a prior visa. China’s ascent is less dramatic, but it is a change far more significant from a geopolitical point of view.

In more detail:

  • In Africa, the Seychelles, Mauritius, and South Africa, continue to hold the top 3 spots
  • In the Middle East, the UAE is in 1st place, Israel in 2nd place, and Turkey in 3rd place
  • In the Caribbean, the top 3 spots are held by Barbados, the Bahamas, and St. Kitts and Nevis, respectively
  • In Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, Ukraine holds 1st place, Moldova holds 2nd place, Russia holds 3rd place and Georgia has 4th place
  • In Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei, respectively, hold the top 3 spots, while Myanmar remains poorest performer in the region. The Philippines has dropped 12 places
  • In North Asia, Japan and South Korea are the global and regional leaders. South Korea and China are tied for highest regional climber in the region over the past decade

To conclude, countries targeting citizens of country X should not be surprised that expected numbers are not reached, if the potential travellers have to make the effort to get a physical visa or an electronic visa. Constructing a medical tourism programme without sorting out visa problems is like driving a car and not putting petrol in it. You come to a stop very quickly.

FURTHER CONTENT PUBLISHED BY THIS AUTHOR

Medical travel for proton therapy

Articles, 27 August, 2019

Proton therapy: a double-edged sword?

First ever UK tourism strategy

Articles, 24 July, 2019

A boost for inbound medical travel to the UK?

Assessing EU cross-border healthcare

Articles, 12 June, 2019

EU cross-border healthcare still requires improvement

Global medical travel trends

Articles, 18 April, 2019

Get on board China’s Belt & Road initiative

UK-EU cross-border healthcare

Articles, 04 April, 2019

Predicting the Brexit effect on EU healthcare travel

Inbound US medical tourism analysis

News, 01 April, 2019

USCIPP identifies top 5 sources of medical tourists to USA

Global medical trends

Articles, 08 March, 2019

Global medical prices will keep rising in 2019

Which destination has the highest risk?

Articles, 07 February, 2019

New study compares risks of travel to global destinations

Promoting Traditional Chinese Medicine

Articles, 24 January, 2019

Will TCM move centre stage in global health tourism?

Medical Travel and Tourism Global Market Report – 1st Edition

Resources, 19 January, 2019

Special Offer: This new report discusses the dynamics of medical tourism and looks at the supply chain, business models, products and the consumer.

Medical Travel and Tourism Global Market Report – 1st Edition

Resources, 09 January, 2019

This new report discusses the dynamics of medical tourism and looks at the supply chain, business models, products and the consumer.

Chinese medical tourism scams

Articles, 11 December, 2018

Arrests in US$145m scam targeting Chinese medical travellers

Stars in the East

Articles, 06 December, 2018

The medical tourism axis is shifting

UK health tourism deception

News, 30 November, 2018

UK government figures on NHS health tourism are debunked

Global wellness tourism boom

Articles, 22 November, 2018

Wellness tourism is worth US$639bn, but what do these figures include?

EU cross-border healthcare

Articles, 09 November, 2018

EU Directive fails to meet expectations for medical tourism

Chinese outbound medical tourists

Articles, 03 October, 2018

How to tap into the Chinese medical travel market

Plea for proper figures

Articles, 19 September, 2018

International patient data overstates medical tourism reality

Anti-Tourism – did you predict THIS trend?

Articles, 30 July, 2018

UK’s Cornwall is discouraging tourists to two of its beaches this summer. Predicting medical travel trends is also dangerous.

Terrorism and political risk

Articles, 06 June, 2018

Growing global political volatility is a major risk for medical travel

“Medical tourists don’t need hotels”

Articles, 03 May, 2018

Why the growth of medical tourism is being limited by a lack of appropriate hotels

UK outbound tourism data

Articles, 16 April, 2018

Health warning on ONS 2017 data about British medical tourist volumes

Medical tourism facts and figures

Articles, 22 March, 2018

The magic of medical tourism numbers

The dangers of dealing with medical tourism financiers

Articles, 14 February, 2018

Beware financiers offering you deals that are too good to be true

Chinese outbound tourism changes

Articles, 01 February, 2018

The changing world of outbound Chinese medical tourism

Agreement on post-Brexit healthcare in EU

Articles, 05 October, 2017

Agreement reached on reciprocal healthcare for British and EU retirees

Ireland, Brexit and Cross Border Healthcare

Articles, 21 September, 2017

UK addresses position on Ireland land border

Medical tourism post-Brexit

Articles, 07 September, 2017

Brexit: Citizens living overseas are pawns for negotiators

UK citizens abroad post Brexit

Articles, 23 August, 2017

UK citizens in EU and EFTA countries

EU citizenship post Brexit

Articles, 08 June, 2017

What happens to EU/EFTA citizens in the UK after Brexit?

Brexit, the NHS and medical tourism

Articles, 02 June, 2017

Brexit bill: the half a billion pound NHS bill

European health insurance

Articles, 25 May, 2017

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - a much misunderstood arrangement

EU Package Travel Directive

Articles, 06 April, 2017

Do you know about the EU Package Travel Directive?

Tele-surgery and medical tourism

Articles, 22 March, 2017

Is tele-surgery a threat to medical tourism?

Travel ban impacts tourism

Articles, 13 March, 2017

New Trump order impacts US inbound tourism

Medical travel insurance

Articles, 01 March, 2017

Clearing up the confusion: insurance and medical tourism

Growth of healing hotels

Articles, 16 February, 2017

Healing Hotels of the World and luxury customers

Trump and medical tourism

Articles, 09 February, 2017

The Trump factor: Protectionism and medical tourism

Will Brexit damage UK medical tourism?

Articles, 16 November, 2016

Refuting the claims of a "medical tourism expert"

Medical tourism in 2016

Articles, 01 November, 2016

The upside down world of medical tourism

Medical tourism cruises?

Articles, 04 October, 2016

All aboard for a healthy trip

Medical tourism associations reducing?

Articles, 01 September, 2016

Where have all the national and regional associations gone?

Medical tourism 2016 overview

Articles, 18 August, 2016

Medical tourism in 2016: What has changed?

Healthcare after Brexit

Articles, 04 August, 2016

The future of cross border healthcare in Europe

The EU debate

Articles, 20 June, 2016

Brexit and medical tourism

International and expatriate healthcare and insurance 2016

Resources, 07 June, 2016

There are more opportunities than ever for insurers and brokers to sell health insurance globally to locals and expatriates.

End of the line for Satori

News, 30 April, 2016

US medical tourism agency Satori collapses

Cuba - restrictions still apply

News, 20 April, 2016

Barriers for US medical tourism to Cuba

Turkey medical tourism

News, 15 April, 2016

The falling star of medical tourism

Clamp down on illegal transplants

News, 15 April, 2016

Kidney transplant ban in Sri Lanka

Early days for Iran

News, 14 April, 2016

Sanctions and travel restrictions still in place

Barriers to domestic medical tourism

News, 12 April, 2016

Out-dated advertising rules affect Malaysia

Incentives for Puerto Rico

News, 11 April, 2016

Puerto Rico gearing up for medical tourism

"Uninsured Americans"... Fact or fiction?

News, 07 April, 2016

New data on US insurance

Bariatric travel... hidden cost?

News, 05 April, 2016

Report on impact of Canadians' obesity surgery abroad

Malaysia stays strong

News, 03 April, 2016

Growth in medical tourism despite economic slowdown

Zika virus repercussions

Articles, 01 April, 2016

Does Zika pose a threat to medical tourism?

Global travel trends

Articles, 01 April, 2016

How will tourism fare in 2016?

Tourism troubles in Turkey

Articles, 14 March, 2016

2016: A lost year for medical tourism in Turkey?

A Gulf of medical tourism?

Articles, 26 February, 2016

How is the falling oil price affecting medical tourism in the Middle East?

National Health Systems Report 2016

Resources, 10 February, 2016

This report provides insight into the National Health Systems of over 180 countries, and what their future plans are on a simple country-by-country basis.

Rising popularity of wellness travel

Articles, 25 January, 2016

Health and wellness and the luxury market

Is Asia getting it wrong?

Articles, 10 December, 2015

Medical tourism is not global: Are asian hospitals targeting the wrong markets?

What's my target market?

Articles, 27 November, 2015

Targeting medical tourists... demographics are dead...adapt or perish!

Your next conference speech

Articles, 15 October, 2015

Insert name here... a template for your medical tourism conference speech

Planning and preparation

Articles, 25 August, 2015

Impact analysis and medical tourism

Dubai acts to reduce healthcare costs

News, 06 August, 2015

DHA introduces price regulation model for private sector health services

Australia breast augmentation package

News, 06 August, 2015

Insurer changes medical tourism option

Health insurance compulsory

News, 06 August, 2015

Chinese visitors to Taiwan must have health insurance

Trends in global healthcare spend

News, 06 August, 2015

OECD Health Statistics 2015: Reductions in spending

Saudi Arabia... compulsory health insurance

News, 06 August, 2015

Compulsory health insurance to be introduced for most visitors

South Korea medical tourism

News, 06 August, 2015

Recovery of South Korea medical tourism after MERS

Health insurance coverage in India

News, 06 August, 2015

86% of the rural population and 82% of the urban population are not covered by health insurance

Japan medical tourism

News, 06 August, 2015

Japanese plans to promote health tourism get mixed reaction

Dubai health insurance update

News, 06 August, 2015

Dubai links health insurance scheme to visa renewal

Comparing US surgeons

News, 06 August, 2015

Consumers to evaluate and compare surgeons based on complications rates and patient outcomes

Malta health plans under attack

News, 06 August, 2015

Doubt expressed about healthcare funding and medical tourism plans

Nigeria universal health coverage

News, 06 August, 2015

NHIS resolves to decentralize the operation of health insurance in the country

Egypt healthcare struggles

News, 06 August, 2015

Pressure on Egypt's ailing health care system

Regulation of Israel medical tourism

News, 06 August, 2015

Special team to investigate and prepare regulation of Israeli medical tourism

Lithuania medical tourism

News, 06 August, 2015

Lithuania rues failure of cross border healthcare

Economy problems

Articles, 31 July, 2015

Greece crisis... the implications for Greek medical tourism

Fact from fiction

Articles, 30 June, 2015

Analysing the latest "internet" facts on medical tourism

What are they up to...

Articles, 28 May, 2015

Competitor analysis in medical tourism

Working with competitors in medical tourism

Articles, 08 May, 2015

Who are your nearest competitors in inbound health and medical tourism?

Fakes, scams and frauds

Articles, 19 March, 2015

How do you know who is telling the truth?

Rallying to the Defence

Articles, 08 January, 2015

Medical tourism under attack and on the back foot

When all fails

Articles, 24 November, 2014

Ian Youngman looking into what happens after the worse happens

The future of medical tourism

Articles, 20 November, 2014

What will 2015 bring for medical tourism?

Central and South America: Health insurance, healthcare and medical tourism 2014

Resources, 14 November, 2014

This regional report provides up to date detail from recent research.

Hot topic: Ebola

Articles, 23 October, 2014

What threat does Ebola pose to medical tourism?

The medical magic

Articles, 06 October, 2014

Why do people travel for health, Ian Youngman discusses why

Medical tourism... good news?

Articles, 29 August, 2014

Does medical tourism benefit countries?

Temporary tourism

Articles, 23 July, 2014

Is medical tourism's growth based on hope or reality?

Do your research

Articles, 09 June, 2014

Knowing your market is key to success

Go compare

Articles, 22 May, 2014

Comparison sites, a threat or opportunity?

Don't believe the hype

Articles, 23 April, 2014

How medical tourism has changed and who not to believe

Tourist or Patient?

Articles, 20 March, 2014

The issues in measuring medical tourism numbers

Dental tourism trends

Articles, 21 February, 2014

Looking at the growth of the dental tourism market

The big questions

Articles, 24 January, 2014

Many problems in the medical tourism industry remain unanswered

The imperfect market

Articles, 19 December, 2013

Is the customer really looking for the cheapest surgery?

Travel insured: part 2

Articles, 04 November, 2013

Why isn't medical travel insured?

Travel insured: part 1

Articles, 21 October, 2013

What travel insurance exists?

Building and hoping

Articles, 06 September, 2013

Building a hospital rarely leads to patients beating a path to your door

Understanding customer choice

Articles, 09 August, 2013

How do medical tourist make decisions about destinations?

Stuck in the past

Articles, 28 June, 2013

Is medical tourism making the most of social media?

Headliners

Articles, 14 June, 2013

How bad news can affect medical tourism in a country

The tourism niche

Articles, 26 April, 2013

Are small industries a bad thing?

The tipping point

Articles, 12 April, 2013

Is medical tourism still a pioneer, or merely a bandwagon?

Disaster planning

Articles, 01 February, 2013

What happens when things go wrong?

Powerhouses of medical tourism

Articles, 04 January, 2013

What economies are booming in the medical tourism industries?

The numbers

Articles, 14 December, 2012

Ian Youngman revisits the figures of medical tourism

Accreditation

Articles, 21 September, 2012

Just what is accreditation in medical tourism and does it help your business?

Healthcare politics

Articles, 23 August, 2012

The impact of healthcare reform on the USA's medical tourism industry

The American tourist

Articles, 13 July, 2012

International Americans have not arrived, but what about domestic travel?

Judging quality

Articles, 15 June, 2012

Are certification and accreditation useful guides for a service's quality?

Medical tourism attacked

Articles, 18 May, 2012

Spain and the UK speak out against medical tourism

Changing world

Articles, 23 March, 2012

Ian Youngman talks on how the world of medical tourism has changed

Build it and they will come

Articles, 27 January, 2012

Is medical tourism a "Field of Dreams"?

Kolkata tragedy

Articles, 19 December, 2011

94 dead in a major fire, what does this mean for India's medical tourism industry?

Top ten tourist destinations

Articles, 14 November, 2011

Ian Youngman tries to pick out the top 2012 medical tourism destinations

Is medical tourism behind the curve?

Articles, 16 September, 2011

Friends, Fans and Followers are becoming a powerful market force

Recovering UK tourism

Articles, 23 June, 2011

Is outbound tourism from the UK recovering?

The shrinking world

Articles, 15 April, 2011

The medical tourism world is shrinking, but is this good news?

Why the Cayman Islands matter

Articles, 25 March, 2011

Ian Youngman talks on the Cayman Islands and their role in medical tourism

Insurance tourism

Articles, 07 March, 2011

How will health insurers adapt to medical tourism?

Medical tourism lost

Articles, 25 February, 2011

How the industry lost its way and how it can get back on track

EU directive: Cross-Border healthcare

Articles, 19 January, 2011

Ian Youngman looks at the challenges of implementation of Cross-Border healthcare

What do we know?

Articles, 10 November, 2010

Ian Youngman comments on an academic review of medical tourism

Implications of online advertising rules

Articles, 27 October, 2010

New rules may affect how medical treatment is advertised online

Changing trends

Articles, 30 September, 2010

How changes in tourism will affect medical travel

An industry out of nowhere

Articles, 03 September, 2010

A new global industry has sprung up, as have many before, what can we learn?

Europe agrees new rules

Articles, 17 June, 2010

Ian Youngman looks at the latest development of Cross-Border healthcare

USA healthcare reform

Articles, 21 April, 2010

Ian Youngman reviews the myths of the US healthcare reforms

Are you complying?

Articles, 12 March, 2010

Ian Youngman examines the new European Union Provision of Services regulation

Top ten hospitals

Articles, 27 January, 2010

Are assessments really fair?

The forgotten destination

Articles, 10 December, 2009

Oft overlooked, London could well be a slumbering giant in medical tourism

Getting social

Articles, 06 November, 2009

Medical tourism industries live and die on their press, but how good is the news ?

Legal, decent, honest and true

Articles, 22 October, 2009

Ian Youngman considers whether the medical tourism industry is both legal and ethical

Looking back at '08

Articles, 25 August, 2009

Ian Youngman looks at the predictions made back in 2008

Conference: Competition hots up

Articles, 16 July, 2009

Ian Youngman looks at the competitive market for medical tourism speakers

Will the boss pick up the bill?

Articles, 26 May, 2009

Can businesses insurers break into the medical tourism market

McKinsey's got it wrong

Articles, 26 May, 2009

A recent report on the industry makes some serious errors

The hottest American destinations

Articles, 15 May, 2009

One country serves travelling American medical care more than any other. America

Where do Americans go abroad?

Articles, 12 May, 2009

Just as we don't know how many Americans travel for care, we have no figures as to where

How many American medical tourists?

Articles, 10 May, 2009

There are wide variations in the American medical tourist estimates. We examine a few

Americans travelling abroad for care

Articles, 10 May, 2009

Do we have any idea how many Americans would travel abroad for treatment?

Delivering destinations

Articles, 28 April, 2009

Not every government is active in attracting medical travellers

Offering a premium service

Articles, 10 September, 2008

IMTJ looks at the new insurance products coming to market

South Korea: medical tourism report

Articles, 01 June, 2008

Ian Youngman is producing a new set of country specific reports, first up, South Korea

Truth in statistics

Articles, 01 June, 2008

Ian Youngman talks on his work: Medical Tourism 2008: the World-wide Business Guide

Insurance and medical travel

Articles, 10 May, 2008

Ian Youngman looks at the new products hitting the insurance market

Advertisement

ADD AN ARTICLE

Do you have an article that you’d like to share with the medical travel industry?

Publish for FREE on IMTJ.

ADD ARTICLE

Related Articles

Regulating India’s stem cell clinics

27 August, 2019

Is stem cell treatment legal in India?

US hospital price transparency

07 August, 2019

Will transparent pricing encourage US medical tourism?

Preparing for complications

30 May, 2019

Checklist for medical travel planning

UK non-surgical cosmetic surgery

18 April, 2019

UK non-surgical cosmetic market: a crisis waiting to happen?

Global medical trends

08 March, 2019

Global medical prices will keep rising in 2019