Asian medical tourism: Research and statistics update


A series of recent research reports on Asian destination countries shows that while medical tourism is growing, actual numbers are lower than often claimed. 

Renub Research has individual reports on India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Each report covers-

•Number of medical tourists 2008 to 2011

•Estimated numbers 2012 to 2015

•Medical tourism market

•Major drivers and roadblocks 

India was one of the first countries to recognize the potential of medical tourism but at best only has a 20% market share of the Asian market. Between 2009 and 2011 the number of medical tourists in India has grown by 30% in total; not the annual growth of 30% assumed by some optimistic Indian organizations. It is estimated that by the year 2015, India will receive nearly half a million medical tourists annually. 

Malaysia has grown its reputation as a preferred destination for medical tourism and has seen impressive growth. Political and economic stability and the government’s efforts to promote Malaysian healthcare abroad has paid off. The number of medical tourists has grown by an average of 23.6% annually for the period 2003 – 2011. The Malaysia medical tourism market has grown more than 8 fold in 2011 compared to its market in 2003. 

The Philippines achieved 100,000 medical tourists in 2010. The medical tourism market is expected to grow at 9% a year from 2012 to 2015. The government of Philippines has many initiatives to boost medical tourism. The report says that by 2015 the number could reach 2015, but if you use the 9% a year growth this only achieves 150,000 by 2015. 

Singapore is one of the leading medical tourism destinations in the world. Singapore medical facilities are considered to be the best in Asia but treatment costs are higher than Asian competitors. In 2011 Singapore had nearly 30% of the medical tourism market in Asia. Singapore medical tourist arrivals are expected to be more than 1 million by 2015. 

South Korea is a fast-growing medical tourism destination. South Korea had more than 6% of the Asia medical tourism market in 2011. It is predicted that South Korea will compete strongly with other Asian rivals. It is forecast that by 2015, South Korea will attract more than 300,000 medical tourists.

Taiwan started to develop its medical tourism sector in earnest only four years ago. But its medical tourism has become one of the biggest attractions for mid to high-income Chinese tourists. Other countries such as India, Thailand and Singapore are all targeting the Chinese. Taiwan is emerging as the best choice for Chinese tourists due to no language barrier, reasonable cost and a sense of warmth and familiarity between Chinese and Taiwanese people. In 2011, the number of medical tourist arrivals in Taiwan was close to 20,000. The country’s medical tourism market is expected to increase at 7% a year from 2012 to 2015.

Thailand is the leader in medical tourist arrivals with more than 40% of the Asia medical tourist arrivals in 2011. It is expected to more than double numbers by 2015. Thailand is a favoured medical tourism destination due to state-of-the-art medical facilities, personalized hospitality and reasonable medical costs.



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