Malaysia is aiming to surpass Thailand and Singapore to become the top medical tourist destination in South-east Asia by 2020.
Currently in third place in terms of number of health travellers in the region, Sherene Azura Azli, CEO of Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) — a body set up in 2009 under the Ministry of Health to develop and promote Malaysia’s healthcare travel industry — said the main challenge is the lack of awareness about Malaysia as a health tourism destination.
Speaking at the Tourism Summit 2015 in Kuala Lumpur last week, Sherene said: “Middle East travellers come to Malaysia for a holiday but go to Thailand for medical treatments. We don’t shout loud enough about our unique value proposition in our marketing and communications.”
Sherene said plans include strengthening public partnership with all private hospitals involved in medical tourism and do more collective marketing in key markets to promote Malaysia as a top-of-mind medical tourism destination.
These key markets include South-east Asia, the Middle East, China, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Kazakhstan.
In 2014, Malaysia earned RM730 million (US$191 million) in revenue from medical tourism and this year, the target is to reach RM1 billion.