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Korea Medical Tourism Convention to attract more Middle East patients in South Korea

The Korea National Tourism Organization, the state-run tourism organization, in cooperation with the Financial News, a leading South Korean newspaper company, is set to open the Korea Medical Tourism Convention, a medical tourism exhibition aimed at attracting Middle East patients in need of advanced treatment, which will be held on November 10 and November 11, 2016 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The event, which is gathering 16 Korean health establishments, government departments and medical agencies, is aimed towards promoting attractive and reasonable medical & travel combo packages for patients wishing to seek medical treatment in world-class healthcare facilities in South Korea. The slogan for the event is ‘Care by Heart, Visit Medical Korea!’


The Korea Medical Tourism Convention proves to be both timely and strategic as more patients from the Middle East region have expressed preference in seeking medical treatments in South Korea. In fact, the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) Annual Report 2015 has revealed that a total of 6,101 patients from the region visited South Korea in 2015, which reflects an 11.2 per cent increase from the previous year. Out of the 6,101 patients, 2,946 came from the UAE, 1,215 from Saudi Arabia and 411 coming from nearby Egypt. The strong relationship between the UAE and South Korea is attributed to the signing of previous Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) to further cooperative ties especially in the field of health care. 


“We are optimistic that this event will play a significant role in raising more awareness on the many benefits and advantages to be gained by patients wanting to visit South Korea for medical purposes,” said Byung Jeon Kwon, Executive Director of K-Tourism Products Department at Korea National Tourism Organization. “The convention will serve as a strategic vehicle to help give a better understanding of Korean oriental medicine, treatments and our diverse range of medical facilities--giving them enough information before they decide on coming to visit South Korea. We look forward to meeting participants and visitors during this exciting two-day event.”


According to the Korea National Tourism Organization, South Korea hosted 296,889 medical tourists from over 190 countries in 2015, reflecting an increase of 11.4 per cent from the 266,501 patients in 2014 and the 211,218 patients in 2013. The growth complements the plan of receiving one million international patients by the end of 2020. Korea offers a blend of high-quality care with high-tech techniques and procedures at prices far less than its counterparts in Europe, Japan and the United States (US). The country has become one of the leaders in organ transplants and cancer treatments throughout the world due to its superior techniques in curing severe conditions such as brain disease, cardiac disorders and cancer. Korea is also ranked the highest for five-year survival rates of cancer treatment patients over Canada, Japan and the US. The health industry in Korea also surpass the US in terms of successful liver transplants--achieving a 92 per cent success rate over the 85 percent posted by the US.


The event has invited leading medical professionals from the UAE and South Korea to talk about timely topics related to the field of medicine and tourism. During the first day of the event, five Korean medical experts representing highly-recognized hospitals in Korea will be giving presentations on popular diseases and case studies from their Middle East patients.


The convention will also be offering free consultations, business meetings and key medical seminars from participating hospitals. Leading Korean establishments participating at the event include Samsung Medical Center, Asan Medical Center, Wooridul Spine Hospital, Seoul National University Hospital and Jaseng Hospital of Korean Traditional Medicine.


“Medical tourists from the Middle East region to Korea increase by over 50 per cent annually, with UAE patients averaging medical expense (per patient) is USD 13,560, which is comparatively higher than average medical expense per patient of USD 1,970. Through this convention, we are hoping many UAE nationals will be introduced and informed more about Korean Healthcare/Medical care, which could lead them to consider Korea as their medical tourism destination of choice,” concluded Kwon. 

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