By Ricky Laxa
The Royal Thai Embassy in Thailand recently hosted a seminar on medical treatment and tourism in Thailand with its theme “Sawasdee Good Health” at the Jumeirah Messilah beach Hotel.
The seminar featured guest speakers from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Dubai and The Middle East offices with prominent hospitals from Thailand, which were also exhibitors at Kuwait Medica 2008.
The event intended to promote cooperation of between both countries in relations to medical tourism and highlights Thailand’s 60th anniversary diplomatic relations with Kuwait.
The three hours seminar featured sessions with the following hospitals: Piyavate Hospital With Dr. Witit Artavatkun – CEO and Managing Director, Bumrungrad International Hospital with Mr. Rajeev Rajan – Chief International Business Development and Dr. Najood Eissa Al Shareeda – Senior Coordination Physician, Vejthani Hospital with Dr. Tullawat Pacharapha – Chief Operating Officer, Bangkok Hospital with Dr. Borihan Suwandee – Director of Arabic Medical Service, BPK9 International Hospital with Dr. Anan Salem – International Managing Director, Phyathai Hospital Mr. Sukkasem Muhammad – International Marketing Manager and Mr. Muree Tamphu – Arab Marketing Officer, – MedPark Hospital with Mr. Ekaluk Sukkasem – Arab Marketing Manager and Mr. Ahmed Merhi – Arab Marketing Executive and World Medical Hospital with Mr. Abdulroning Aebakor – Arab Marketing Manager.
In his opening remarks Honorable Wattanachai Nirundorn, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the Royal Thai Embassy in Kuwait stated that Thailand is one of the top medical hubs of the world with varieties of advanced medical centers with specialized medical experts and world-renowned hospitality. There are 59 Thai hospitals accredited by Joint Commission International or JCI which is the highest number among Asia Pacific and South Asian countries and ranks the 4th in the world.
The accreditation guarantees that many Thai hospitals have met the international standards as JCI is the worldwide accreditation organization in terms of healthcare. “Thailand is also well-known for our specialization in the treatment of various diseases and symptoms. I would say that there is no diseases or symptoms that cannot be treated in Thailand since our doctors possess great expertise, experience, and professionalism in various fields of medical treatment. Thailand is also the location of many great medical schools in most of our universities across the country which have produced generations of outstanding doctors for many decades and the years to come” added CDA Nirundorn.
Present in the occasion was Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Director of Dubai and Middle East Office Chaiwat Tamthai mentioned in his welcome address that according to Global Health Security (GHS) Index 2019, Thailand was ranked first in Asia and sixth among 195 countries in the world’s strongest health security, especially during the pandemic. The largest segment of health and wellness tourism in Thailand was its spa tourism with 795 million US dollars being spent in 2019 followed by medical tourism with 663 million US dollars being spent and with 27 million visitors in 2019.
“Thailand welcomed more than 39 million visitors globally and more than 78,199 were Kuwaitis. Now the COVID situation worldwide is being improved and the tourism momentum is returning once again. I’m pleased to announce that Thailand has been welcoming more than 40,000 Kuwaitis since May 2022” commented Tamthai. Furthermore, he added that the main reason why Middle East and other foreigners seek medical treatment in Thailand is the reasonable cost that is usually 20-50% lower than that in USA and Europe allowing medical tourists to have a budget left for recuperation and even recreation.
Medical tourism in Thailand has increased significantly in recent years. From our previous survey with hospitals in Thailand and arrival data in 2019, it showed that 30% of Middle East visitors to Thailand or approximately 150,000 PAX were medical tourists.