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WTM London Review

Dubai health tourism market grows
December 2019 3179

Dubai has maintained a steady growth in health tourism and continues to enhance the experience for patients and wellness tourists, TTN learned in an interview with Linda Abdullah, consultant at Health Tourism Department, Dubai Health Authority, during the side lines of World Travel Market 2019.

According to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the emirate attracted 337,011 medical tourists in 2018 alone, who spent a combined value of Dh1.163 billion ($316.6 million) on treatments in the top leading specialties: Orthopedics, sports medicine, dermatology and skin care, dentistry and fertility treatments.

The Health Tourism department is promoting its 70-plus DXH group members’ healthcare facilities in the key source markets including GCC, Europe, Africa, Russia and China.

On the back of rise in tourist arrivals in 2018, Dubai aims to attract 500,000 medical tourists by 2021, supported by Expo 2020.

“Wellness packages have become a big thing for us; we have worked on those wellness packages with Emirates Holidays and they can be accessed from the Emirates Holidays website from the GCC region. We are also working on the latest wellness packages and health checkups for the Chinese market, which is a co-project with The Emirates Group. Our packages are becoming more comprehensive and that concept is becoming clearer, they include both the leisure component as well as the medical component.


The UAE medical tourism sales amounted to $3.26 billion in 2018, a 5.5 per cent year-over-year increase in sector sales


“We have two tier packages, one that's affordable and one that's a bit more luxury.”

The UAE medical tourism sales amounted to Dh12 billion ($3.26 billion) in 2018, which is a 5.5 per cent year-over-year increase in sector sales, driven by new government-led initiatives and a growing number of medical tourists, as per the recent data released by Euromonitor International.

DXH aims to expand its comprehensive health services portfolio with the introduction of free second medical opinion provided by selected healthcare providers. “Sometimes you're desperate for a second opinion and you don't know where to go. You know what? Dubai can do that for you for free. Even for oncology we offer a second medical opinion, as well as for cardiology, we chose the specialties that were not the touch and go ones.”

Besides, an array of annual health checks ups, wellness programmes and same day ‘in and out’ procedures are also available at dental and other cosmetic facilities for transit and short stay travellers.

Linda Abdullah said: “Our new website caters for information that's very easy to get. Facilitators, who are travel agencies can register with us and get all the updates on our packages and our new offers. Our website is our main link with the buyers, whether they are facilitators or medical tourists.”

In addition to promoting Dubai’s Health Experience, the brand conceived by DHA, Health Tourism department is continuing its efforts to further develop infrastructure, legislation, policies and regulations supporting health tourism.

Key strategies going forward would be on talent acquisitions in the regulation sector, bringing on healthcare professionals from outside the country, increasing specialisations such as STEM Cells and going making health tourism more sustainable.

“Further enhancing patient safety and experience and availability of international talent for the delivery of world-class health services are among the key pillars of Dubai’s health tourism strategy. This will help Dubai attract even more health tourists in the coming years,” added Abdullah.

“We found out that so many visitors are already coming to Dubai for tourism, why not address the needs and create these packages and infrastructure. Instead of us going to promote the medical product, we found that they were coming to us, so why don't we facilitate that? And I think, that's what made things very organic.

“Medical tourists are also spending a lot on leisure and therefore their expenditures are not limited to medical, but increasing Dubai tourism revenues as well. “Indeed. About 38 per cent of the income of medical tourists is spent on the medical side and 62 per cent gets spent on the leisure and the hotel and the tickets and all the leisure component.”   

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