Seoul Targets $61 Million From Medical Tourism
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Seoul City will boost medical tourism focused on plastic surgery and Oriental medicine, and invite user experience groups to look around Seoul's clinics and medical services.
Seoul announced the plan to nurture the medical tourism industry Tuesday. Seoul drew some 50,000 tourists for medical purposes last year, according to the Korea Health Industry Development Institute.
"We will improve Seoul to make it the best medical tourist destination in Asia quantitatively as well as qualitatively," Choi Hang-do of the Urban Competitiveness Headquarters said. "We plan to promote Seoul's outstanding medical services in cooperation with other big international events such as the G-20 summit in November."
The city government sees medical tourism as a new driving force as the medical visitors stay longer and spend more than general tourists on average. According to statistics, a medical tourist spends some 3.7 million won for doctor's bills on average and around 70 billion won ($61 million) is expected to be generated when 10,000 medical tourists come to Seoul.
To assist the five representative sectors ― health check-ups, dermatology, plastic surgery, oriental medicine and dentistry ― the city will select collaborative medical institutions. They will develop medical tourism programs and strengthen overseas marketing campaigns. Special coordinators with medical knowledge and foreign language abilities will arrange the patients with proper hospitals.
The city received applications from hospitals last month and will choose the collaborative clinics after written evaluations and spot inspections this month.
The city will also expand the services of the Seoul Medical Tourism Support Center, which opened last year.
The center provides information on medical institutions consults patients and helps make reservations, connecting overseas patients, clinics and tour agencies