South Korea hopes for huge expansion in medical tourism numbers


South Korea aims to quadruple the number of medical tourists to 1 million by 2020 with the main focus of advertising being the Middle East.

Health minister Moon Hyung-pyo explains, "Our goal is to see one million medical tourists a year by 2020. The number of medical tourists is expected to reach 250,000 by the end of 2014. Whether we can achieve these targets all depends on the Middle East. The Middle East countries offer huge opportunities for Korea. Although they make enormous money exporting oil globally, they depend on overseas medical services because of a lack of infrastructure there. 120,000 people from the UAE and 200,000 from Saudi Arabia visit other countries annually to get medical treatment.”

According to the Ministry of Health, what began as 60,201 medical tourists in 2009 increased to 122,297 in 2011 and 211,218 in 2013. Revenue jumped $368 million in 2013. Cosmetic surgery only accounted for 24,075 out of a total of 211,218 medical tourists. Surgery accounted for 68,453 cases, with 28,135 medical checks and 25,101 for dermatological help.

Moon Hyung-pyo adds, "The portion of foreigners visiting the country to get cosmetic surgery is expected to decrease as Korean hospitals are diversifying their services in response to rising demand from foreign patients. There are reasons why people around the world keep visiting Korea for medical services. It will become like our televisions that are dominating the global market. They know Korea offers better services at cheaper costs.” 



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