Dubai plans to attract thousands of medical tourists from Russia, CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries, South Asia and GCC states and has earmarked seven specialities that will bring patients for treatment to the emirate.
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has rolled out the initiative that is projected will earn Dh1.2 billion ($327million) in revenue from patients and their families and make Dubai one of the top medical tourism destinations in the world.
Special packages will be rolled out for patients that will include the cost of treatment, the visa cost, air ticket, and leisure activities for patients’ families. The DHA is working with the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing to “lock in” the prices and with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs to make the visa process easier for those coming here for treatment.
“Dubai already has several elements that make it a favourable destination for medical tourism. Developing a strategy helps ensure the complete process from the time a patient visits Dubai for medical tourism right through the discharge and follow-up stage is smooth, “said Eisa Al Maidour, Director-General of DHA, announcing the plan to the media.
Dubai already attracts medical tourists from diverse countries such as Nigeria, the US, Pakistan and India for treatment for fertility to heart operations.
“We are relying on Dubai’s strengths by building a health system that supports excellence in health care with a focus on health-care professionals, health investment and excellence in services across a diversified range of medical specialities,” Al Maidour said.
The DHA will launch a special portal for medical tourism and launch medical tourism packages that will be promoted in a target market, said Dr Ramadan Ebrahim, director of health regulation at the DHA and director of the Medical Tourism Project.
He said the hospitals are internationally accredited and the emirate has more than 25,800 health professionals in the private sector who speak more than 40 languages. “All these factors will help drive the medical tourism initiative,” he said.
He added that 120,000 medical tourists visited Dubai in 2013 and the revenues generated totalled AED 734.6 million ($200 million), an increase of 12% over 2012. That already puts it ahead of Turkey, with 110,000 medical travellers according to 2013 figures from Patients Beyond Borders, a U.S. group that collects data on the industry.
By 2016, there is expected to have been an increase of 15%, bringing the total number of tourists to 170,000 and revenues to AED1.2 billion (($327million). By 2020 Dubai will attract 500,000 medical tourists, shooting up the revenues to AED 2,6 billion ($706 million).
This article was originally published in Gulf News