The multi-billion dollar medical travel sector could become an important new source of demand when traditional demand drivers are under increasing threat. According to Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels’ most recent research FocusOn Medical Travel – fad or focus for hotel operators and investors?, the medical travel sector has potential to develop into a lucrative niche market for hotel operators and investors.
The medical travel industry is driven today by Asia, particularly popular destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and India. “These countries are developing first-class facilities with highly skilled medical specialists, many of whom trained abroad,” said Mark Wynne Smith, CEO for Europe, Middle East & Africa at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. He added, “International tourists are attracted by the high-quality and relatively low-cost healthcare offered.” With destinations such as Eastern Europe, Turkey and Dubai getting in on the act, this market is poised for rapid expansion in the future.
As travellers become more discriminating, they will continue to seek out hotels and resorts that offer a complete array of amenities. Medical spas, medical travel and rehabilitation at desirable destinations will play a large role in the new generation of spa resorts. “In Dubai alone, there are at least 120 spas, health clubs and clinics offering wellness services. By 2015, the United Arab Emirates could be amongst the top spa destinations in the world with an estimated 200 hotels offering world-class facilities,” said Mark Wynne Smith.
Stakeholders must ensure that the medical travel industry offers accessible, affordable and high-quality care to cement the reputation of this fledgling sector and allow the travelling public to make informed choices about their medical care. There is enormous potential for partnerships between hotel chains, property developers, airlines, insurance companies and financial institutions. “These partnerships are vital as medical travellers need the security and peace of mind provided by purchasing an all-inclusive package for their trip,” said Wynne Smith.
“Medical Tourism has the potential to become a significant tourism segment with investment opportunities ranging from large scale hotel developments adjacent to city hospitals or specialist offerings with some minor modifications to existing product. In either scenario, the amount of incremental capital expenditure will depend on the size and opportunity within the market and should be a key consideration for any investor,” concludes Mark Wynne Smith.
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