|Traditional medicine products on display at a recent workshop held in HCM City
Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, deputy director of the city Department of Tourism, said medical tourism had great potential along with agri-tourism, eco-tourism and inland waterway tourism.
According to the Vietnam National Administration Tourism, the number of foreign tourists coming to Vietnam for tourism combined with healthcare has been increasing in recent years and revenues are now worth around 2 billion USD a year.
Last year some 300,000 foreign visitors visited hospitals in the country for health checks and treatment, including 57,000 inpatients. Hospitals in the city accounted for 40 percent of the number.
The World Tourism Organisation has forecast the top six global trends of the future are health tourism, responsible tourism, eco-tourism, community tourism, smart travel, and creative tourism.
Developing medical tourism products is not only in line with the global development trend, but will also contribute to diversifying the city’s tourism products and tourism sector development, Hoa said.
Her department is working with the health department to develop medical tourism by 2025, with a focus on traditional medicine and acupuncture and dental care.
Phan Yen Ly of Saigontourist’s inbound division said it was necessary to develop unique products to foster medical tourism in the city.
Promoting marketing and having well-defined target customers are very important, she said, adding there was also a need to reduce the patient overload at hospitals and improve the quality of their medical services.
Nguyen Thi Huynh Mai, chief of the health department office, said the city had many quality hospitals that could help develop medical tourism, adding the cost of healthcare is low compared to other countries in the region while the quality of doctors and equipment are not inferior.
The health department has launched a mobile app called Medical Tourism Assistant which helps patients seeking basic information on healthcare services and hospitals in the city. It plans to develop the app in English to meet the demand from foreign tourists next year.
Last year it also released a medical tourism guidebook in Vietnamese and English with basic information about travel and healthcare in the city.
The workshop offered an opportunity to hospitals to introduce their medical services and packages for tourists. It was organised on the sidelines of the 15th annual International Travel Expo HCM City being held from September 5-7 at the Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre in District 7.