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Phuket's medical tourism in full bloom

PHUKET: The release of recent market survey data by C9 Hotelworks has revealed how Phuket’s medical tourism industry is in full bloom, but may face shifting core challenges in the year ahead.

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By The Phuket News

Friday 26 February 2016, 09:51AM


Key points highlighted by the data included that aesthetic treatments were driving over 80% of sector demand, while the burgeoning market was creating business opportunities for medical facility investment.

“Phuket’s reputation as a quality medical hub and the increasing global movement towards beauty enhancements are leading a shifting focus of market offerings and attraction for overseas patients,” said Bill Barnett, Managing Director, C9 Hotelworks.

“Aesthetic procedures have increasingly grown to dominate the market, with cosmetic surgery being the most popular product led mostly by Australians, and anti-aging treatments being driven by travelers from Mainland China.

“Hospitals and clinics strategically collaborate with medical tour agencies to provide ‘inclusive packages’ combining wellness and holidays at competitive price points. They also strive to gain a market niche by introducing specialized services.

“Existing medical demand reveals high investment potential which is drawing more domestic and international groups into commercial projects such as large-scale expansions and acquisitions.

We expect the Phuket healthcare tourism sector to be a positive long-term proposition.”

Key trends indicated by the data showed that close to half of the total medical offerings consist of cosmetic operations such as breast implants, liposuction and face/body contouring.

“Also, almost two-thirds of the patients book through international medical tour agencies based in overseas locations such as Australia,” Mr Barnett noted.

“Further, current facility expansions and openings include the Phuket International Hospital (PIH) new wing which is exclusively for medical tourists with state-of-the-art facilities,” he adds (see Live Sabai on page XX).

In assessing the market overview, regarding cosmetic surgery and anti-aging treatments, Mr Barnett pointed out that breast augmentation and lifts were most popular in the cosmetic surgery category while hormone treatments have captured the largest demand for anti-aging procedures.

The profile of the average medical tourism client was revealed. By nationality, mainland China was the top geographic source market for anti-aging products, representing almost two-thirds of the segment. “They often travel in groups for treatments,” Mr Barnett pointed out.

Meanwhile, Australians represent 70% of cosmetic surgery clients who mainly come with all inclusive packages that provide treatment, transportation and hotel accommodation.

“The industry caters primarily to female patients which comprise almost 93% of the market,” highlighted Mr Barnett.

“Also, medical tourists between 18 to 25 and 45 to 55 years old are the two largest age categories at 33% and 31%, respectively,” he said.

The report noted that the average hospital/clinic spend for cosmetic surgery is nearly twice that for anti-aging patients, with median costs of B150,000 and B80,000 respectively.

“Medical tourists’ average length of stay in Phuket tallies in at 12 days for cosmetic operations as opposed to five days for anti-aging treatments,” Mr Barnett said.

Looking forward, Mr Barnett said that the industry should anticipate an increasing trend of hospital acquisitions and cross-border cooperation for developments of wellness and aesthetic treatment facilities.

“AEC commencement should in part lead to more international hospital chains establishing satellite projects in Phuket,” he said.

“Hospitals and clinics are looking to develop more non-aesthetic medical services to gain a competitive edge, which will lead to diversification of this segment,” he added.

 

 

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