Malaysia Still Behind In Medical Tourism, Says NCCIM

| 18/03/2009 | Reply

Malaysia Still Behind In Medical Tourism, Says NCCIM


JOHOR BAHARU, March 17 (Bernama) — Although Malaysia is an Islamic
country, tourists from the Middle East make Thailand and Singapore
their choice of destination over Malaysia when it comes to getting
medical treatment.

Making this statement, Secretary General of the National Chambers
of Commerce and Industry Malaysia (NCCIM), Datuk Syed Hussien
Al-Habshee said the lack of effective marketing strategy was the reason
for Malaysia being left behind the two countries in the multi billion
ringgit medical tourism sector.

“Although we have the clear edge in terms of religion, Muslim
hospital staff, halal food and other aspects, Middle East tourists
prefer to go to Thailand and Singapore.

“Due to this, the country continues to be left far behind the two
neighbouring countries in the sector which is growing annually and
worth billions of ringgit,” he told Bernama in an interview here
Tuesday.

Just last year alone, 6,000 medical tourists from the Middle East
went to Thailand for various forms of treatment in the country’s
hospitals.

He said the Middle East medical tourists arrivals in Thailand were
either financed by their respective government agencies or private
funds.

Syed Hussien, who is also former Malaysian Ambassador to the
United Arab Emirates, said there needed to be more integrated
strategies for the sector from government agencies involved.

The three ministries involved, namely the Ministry of Health,
Ministry of International Trade and Industry and Tourism Ministry
should have a strategy to promote and market Malaysia as a premier
medical tourism destination, he said.

He also said that in his recent trip to Muscat, Oman, to attend
the International Tourism Market (ITM) conference and exhibition, he
found Thailand aggressively promoting its medical tourism facilities to
tourists from the country, with medical officers attending to special
queries.

Syed Hussien said there was a need for Malaysia during its tourism
promotion to also focus on the special area of medical tourism.

This will be in line with the government’s objectives to shift the country’s economy to being services based, he added.

Category: Asia, Travel & Hospitality

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