Medical tourism revenue hit RM1 billion in 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s medical tourism industry grew by almost 25% in 2016, raking in an estimated RM1.15 billion in hospital revenue, revealed the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC).

MHTC CEO Sherene Azli said this was encouraging, especially since medical tourists were the biggest spenders among tourists in the country.

“For each ringgit spent on a medical tourist’s hospital bill, it is estimated that the patient spends RM3 on expenses outside the hospital,” she said, adding this included paying for things like transport and accommodation.

The RM1.15 billion in revenue is derived from the medical bills of foreigners seeking medical treatment in Malaysian private hospitals.

“Our medical tourists mostly come from Indonesia, China, India, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Middle East,” she said at a forum on healthcare, organised by the Asia Strategy & Leadership Institute (Asli) here today.

Sherene said Malaysia’s medical tourism industry continued to grow year by year due to the quality, accessibility, and the affordability of private healthcare facilities in the country.


This, she said was why Malaysia won the International Medical Travel Journal’s Medical Travel Destination of the Year award in 2015 and 2016.

It was also named as the country with the “Best Healthcare in the World” by International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index for three consecutive years (2015 to 2017).

But Sherene said more still needed to be done to raise awareness on Malaysia as a medical tourism destination.

“Even though we have received recognition over the years, many still aren’t aware that Malaysia is a very viable option.

“In that sense, we have to market ourselves more,” she said, adding countries like South Korea have the advantage of bigger advertising budgets for their medical tourism industry.

Sherene said this was just one part of the industry which needed to be beefed up.

She added that customer experience was a primary focus. “We want to fill any gaps in the customer experience like improving post-medical care and ensuring a seamless experience for medical tourists.”

She said to this end, MHTC had a concierge service and lounge at KLIA and Penang International Airport with a meet-and-greet service for medical tourists, immigration facilitation and an avenue for medical tourists to relax while waiting for their transport to the hospital.