Dubai has been chosen to host the ninth annual World Health Tourism Congress later this year. The event will offer a global platform to all those with a stake in the medical tourism industry - a sector that the emirate hopes to attract in the future.
The event will be held between October 18th and 20th and will see health insurance providers, tourism promotion companies, medical regulators and tour operators come together to discuss a range of issues and trends currently affecting the health tourism industry.
Organisers behind the conference believe it will attract upwards of 350 people from over 80 different countries. It has been coordinated by Grand Aurum Marketing and Dubai Health Care City (DHCC), with the backing of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
This year marks the first time the World Health Tourism Congress will be held in the Middle East. Previous host countries include Germany, Cyprus, the Philippines, Spain and South Africa.
Tamer El Chamaa, director of the Congress, believes Dubai is the ideal place for this year’s event as the DTCM has been increasingly focused on health tourism recently. He expects there to be significant participation from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the wider Middle East.
As Dubai has aspirations of becoming a global hub for medical tourism, it is a sensible choice for the event and can offer delegates a mix of tourist attractions and healthcare facilities, added Mr El Chamaa.
According to the report ‘Medical Tourism: An Evolving Market That's Ripe For Growth And Opportunity’, around 11 million people travel internationally seeking medical treatment annually and the overall industry is currently worth $30 billion (£17.9 billion) globally. By 2020, the emirate hopes to attract 500,000 of these tourists every year.
Research from Patients Beyond Borders reveals that people spend between $3,500 and $5,000 per visit when travelling abroad for medical purposes , which includes accommodation and transport spend.
Currently, Costa Rica, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the US are the top destinations for health tourism, but Dubai hopes to become a force to be reckoned with in the industry.
Many countries are heavily promoting medical tourism as it is a potentially lucrative source of foreign revenue.