Campaign to position Abu Dhabi as medical tourism destination
Health and tourism officials join forces to support drive
Abu Dhabi’s health and tourism officials have joined together in a push to stimulate the emirate’s medical tourism sector with a focus on heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (Haad) and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) yesterday signed an agreement at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai to establish a medical tourism network to serve patients coming from abroad particularly Russia, China and India.
The system will ensure that visas, hospital bookings, translation services and aftercare are handled efficiently for the patient and family members. “The roster of medical and tourism professionals that are included in the campaign will have to offer best-in-class care and capacity,” said Dr Asma Al Mannaei, director of the healthcare quality division at Haad.
Haad will focus on highly specialised medical services such as cardiology, ophthalmology and diabetes treatment. It will utilise data from the Abu Dhabi Quality Index Programme, launched in 2014, to identify participating organisations.
She said all medical and tourism stakeholders that wish to join the collaboration should register through www.haad.ae/ admt.
“We will specifically be targeting the Russian, Indian, Chinese and GCC markets. Medical tourism is an integral part of Abu Dhabi’s 2030 vision to diversify its economy. Today is the first call for those who wish to join the strategy. We intend to offer different priced packages, Tiers 1, 2 and 3 accommodating different price points,” she said.
The move into medical tourism could be the spur the emirate’s hotels have needed.
While Abu Dhabi received more than 4.4 million visitors last year, setting a new annual record, hotel occupancy was down 2.5 per cent and the average room rate was down 10 per cent on 2015. Research compiled by Haad, the TCA and Insead shows that while the average spending of a tourist to the capital is US$500 per day, the average spending of a medical tourist is between $800 and $2,500 per day.
The average length of stay for medical tourists is between seven and 10 days.
However, treatment costs are higher in the Gulf region compared with more competitive destinations such as Asia, according to Rashid Aboobacker, associate director with TRI consulting.
“There is a significant opportunity in the medical and wellness tourism space in the UAE,” he said. “The country currently only captures a small share of the global medical market. While Dubai leads the region it is still in early development.
“The GCC is a big market but the medical facilities in the UAE can target demand from the wider Middle East and Africa as well.”
Dr Asma Al Mannaei, the healthcare quality division director at Haad, at Arabian Travel Market yesterday.