By Chung Ah-young
From next month, Seoul Metropolitan Government will run district-specific medical tour programs in an effort to cope with increasing demand from foreign patients visiting here.
The municipal administration said Wednesday that major districts such as Gangnam, Seokcho, Seodaemun, Gangseo and Jung-gu have agreed to participate in the programs to push particular medical services available close to nearby tourist spots.
Gangnam, the affluent district in southern Seoul, is a hot spot for plastic surgery clinics while Seocho is known for skin care clinics. Jung-gu is home to oriental medicine hospitals while Seodaemun offers specialized cancer treatment. Gangseo is renowned for clinics that specialize in orthopedics.
The programs will integrate the specified medical services from each district with the opportunity to visit tourist attractions.
For example, foreigners can use the plastic surgery clinics in Gangnam and then tour around Garosugil, known for its trendy boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
Also, they will be provided with skin care services in Seocho and then be able to enjoy nearby restaurants in Seorae Village.
In Jung-gu, visitors will able to get acupuncture at oriental clinics and enjoy Korean dishes made of herbs, and then visit a traditional Hanok village.
"The programs will create a synergy effect by combining medical services with tourism," an official of the municipal government, said.
Aside from medical tourism, the municipal government will also run a program of physical therapy and acupuncture in oriental medicine targeting foreigners at a cost of 100 million won this year.
Last year, some 80,000 foreigners visited Korea to receive medical treatment, a 20 percent increase from a year earlier, according to recent data.