Overview of this Trend
China, the biggest outbound tourism market is continuously expanding years after years. With more than 120 million Chinese people travelling overseas in 2015, any tourism player that wants to expand its business should do their best to attract Chinese tourists.
Actually, even if you are not in the Tourism industry, you might want to attract Chinese tourists. In fact, these last few years several niche markets appeared such as: Education Tourism and Medical tourism.
According to a report from SME Centre, there were already more than 40 million Chinese tourists going overseas to get medical services. Many companies in China and hospitals overseas saw the opportunity in this situation. It is estimated that there are at least 30 agencies in China mainly focus on planning medical trips. In the medical tourism market alone, 440 billion USD were spent in 2013. Needless to say that it is a very lucrative market.
Medical outbound Tourism
Why do Chinese people look for medical treatments abroad? Well the main reason is the price. According to a survey undertook by Ipsos on Medical Tourism in 24 countries, 7 out of 10 Chinese people among the respondents stated they would search for overseas medical treatments. Other reasons include better overall healthcare services and advanced technology. The main destinations for Chinese “tourists” or more specifically patients going overseas for medical treatments are: The United States, UK, Germany, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.
One of these local agencies is Saint Lucia Consulting …
Saint Lucia Consulting, a medical tourism agency which opened in Beijing, China in 2011, said to China daily a few years ago that the majority of their clients were looking for high end medical services they couldn’t find in China.
The United States
Andrew Warshaw, director at MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital) in charge of international patients stated that many Chinese patients come to the US after having received some kind of treatments in China. Because of their non-satisfaction, they decided to take the leap and to go to the US.
Ms Wang and her husband were one of them; they had to sell their apartment and go way over budget to do this trip. She also said that she didn’t expect the medical treatments to be that expensive. Someone (Ms. Zhu) wrote a post about the couple’s experience in the US. The post went viral on main Chinese social media platforms.
In terms of finance resources, the average budget for a trip overseas to receive medical treatments for a Chinese tourist is between 100K and 700K.
According to the Health Ministry of Thailand, more than 2.2 million of foreign tourists came in Thailand to receive some kind of medical treatment. Between 2012 and 2017, the government expect this niche market to contribute to more than 24 billion USD in revenue for the country.
As you may have already guessed, going to Asia instead of other western countries is way cheaper for the Chinese tourist. According to Wang, a Chinese person who receive medical treatments in Bangkok, she spent about 1000 USD for her surgery and a total of 2,000 USD for the whole stay of 10 days (flight tickets, living fees, …)
— chinese tourist (@TouristChinese) 22 avril 2016
South Korea is another destination that is becoming more and more popular among Chinese people looking for medical treatment and more specifically cosmetic surgery. In fact, South Korea is well known in this field by being one of the first top countries in terms of cosmetic surgery.
The Korean Tourist Organisation (KTO) forecasts the arrival of 998,000 medical tourists in 2020. The revenue from this market was of 1,01 trillion won in 2013 and is expected to reach 3.5 trillion won in 2020. There are more than 110 South Korean hospital offices in 19 countries including China.
Source: Visit Medical Korea
According to a report from the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, more than 32,000 Chinese people travelled to South Korea to receive medical treatments in 2012, which are about 2 out 10 foreign tourists who came to Korea for this kind of services. In 2014, 266,501 foreign medical tourists came in South Korea, among which 36,224 came for plastic surgery. Finally, if we look at 2014 figures, 3 out of 10 medical tourists are Chinese.
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