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South Korea Aims to Become a Medical Tourism Hub
Jun 01, 2009

South Korea is all set to become a leading medical tourism destination in Asia as it has already allowed its state-licensed hospitals to directly advertise for patients.

In an effort to become Asia’s new medical tourism hub, South Korea has allowed its state-licensed clinics and hospitals to directly look for foreign patients. Earlier, hospitals were prohibited from directly marketing for patients or admitting them by means of referral services.

South Korea estimates that nearly 50,000 overseas patients will be benefited by the country’s healthcare facilities in 2009 as compared to 27,480 foreign patients arrived in 2008. The number of medical tourists to South Korea is expected to reach around 200,000 by 2013.

According to a RNCOS report “Emerging Medical Tourism in South Korea”, South Korea is fast emerging as a popular medical tourism destination, particularly among the American, Japanese and Chinese tourists. Medical tourists come to South Korea for lower treatment expenses as well as advanced technology employed and superior healthcare infrastructure.

According to an estimation of the Global Healthcare Business Center, the sector is likely to generate revenue of approx. US$ 221 Million in 2009, which will rapidly grow due to intense overseas marketing. Additionally, over 40 domestic travel agencies together with hundreds of clinics and hospitals are likely to seek state licenses.

Besides, South Korea is launching a new category of visa for overseas visitors who arrive for medical treatment. The medical tourist visa, M, is introduced to boost the medical tourism sector as the South Korean hospitals as well as medical institutions pleaded to the government to make the procedure of issuing visa simpler. 

The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs stated that the new visa would be issued from May 11, 2009 in two formats - C3 (M), a 90-day visa for the patients having short-term treatment purposes, and G1 (M), a 1-year visa for those having long-term healthcare requirements.

However, the Justice Ministry will look for the tourists who may misuse this easily available medical visa to enter the country or stay here illegally, said the officials.

According to a Research Analyst at RNCOS, “The South Korean government has taken a number of initiatives to promote its medical tourism sector, like making the procedure to obtain visa easier for overseas patients. By this, the country can create higher awareness about its medical and tourism services in the overseas markets. With advanced treatment technology and highly skilled professionals, South Korea is capable to become a medical tourism hub in Asia.”

Related Market Research Reports:
Emerging Medical Tourism in South Korea
Emerging Medical Tourism in Turkey
Booming Medical Tourism in India