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Government expects more than RM 2 billion in tourism revenue

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Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) expects revenue contribution from the medical tourism to surpass RM2 billion annually, with a multiplier contribution worth RM10 billion to the country’s economy by 2020.

MHTC chief executive officer Sherene Azli said medical tourism was one of the biggest contributors to Malaysia’s overall tourism sector.

Revenue is derived from more than 200 private hospitals, mainly elite hospitals actively involved in promoting medical tourism. Among the elite hospitals are Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Prince Court Medical Centre, Sunway Medical Centre and Tropicana Medical Centre.

“Hopefully, with the increase in revenue, hospitals can re-invest and give better healthcare services. Hence, we can unburden public hospitals when we have better quality private hospitals, which leads to cost-effectiveness,” she told NST Business.
Sherene said for every RM1 spent by patients in the hospitals, it would generate a multiplier effect of RM3 to RM4 from auxiliary services such as transport, food and beverage as well as hotels.

MHTC is upbeat that Malaysia can position itself as an internationally recognised healthcare service provider amid stiff competition in Asia.

“We have to be focused on promoting Malaysia. It is important for us to drive medical tourism and target sub-sectors such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and cardiology treatments to get additional mileage.”

She said there was encouraging demand for fertility and cardiology treatments in Malaysia, citing that the country had the capacity to handle them and they were the key selling propositions.

“For example, in developing Malaysia as a fertility hub for Asia, we need to look at what’s available when it comes to our hospitals and the specialists as well as facilities.

“We are encouraged as Malaysia has been recording one the highest success rates in the world for fertility treatment, averaging 66 % compared to a global average about 50 % last year.”

With the removal of the one-child policy in China, Sherene said there were 90 million couples looking to have their second child.

“Of the 90 million couples, 40 million couples aged above 40 are looking at fertility treatment. We have been working with our partners in China to tap the different markets and hope we can see tremendous growth from fertility treatment.”
Malaysia has also been recognised by the International Living of United States for its healthcare system.

“The recognition has put Malaysia on the world map as a destination for healthcare treatment,” she said, adding that Malaysia won the “medical travel destination of the year” award in 2015, last year and this year from the International Medical Travel Journal in London.

She said according to MHTC estimates, there would be 1.1 million to 1.2 million medical tourist arrivals in Malaysia by 2020.

“We have done our service capacity study among private hospitals to see whether they can handle the influx of medical travellers.”

Sherene said it would be to the advantage of private hospitals to optimise their capacity by improving expertise and facilities.

“On average, we grow about 16 % annually in medical tourism. We target to achieve an increase of 30 % by 2020. Currently, patients come to Malaysia for cosmetic, orthopaedic, oncology, neurology and health screening treatments.”

She said MHTC had identified Indonesia, Vietnam, China and India as core markets based on the volume of healthcare travellers with growth potential.

“Malaysia received more than 921,500 health travellers last year, with the actual contribution from healthcare travel to the economy at RM4 billion to RM5 billion,” she said.

On the government’s RM30 million budget allocation for MHTC, she said: “When the government invests in something, it expects to have a return on investment. Malaysia’s medical tourism industry has been growing between 10 and 17 % on a yearly basis in the past five years.

“The government has seen the potential of the sector. We are excited and encouraged with the funding of RM30 million. We have to ensure that we use it effectively.”

Sherene said the budget allocation would be used to promote Malaysia as fertility and cardiology hubs in the region as well as grow flagship hospitals in the country.

 


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