Cam­paign to po­si­tion Abu Dhabi as med­i­cal tourism des­ti­na­tion

Health and tourism of­fi­cials join forces to sup­port drive

The National - News - Business - - Front Page - An­drew Scott as­[email protected]­

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 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.”

Ravin­dranath K / The Na­tional

Dr Asma Al Man­naei, the health­care qual­ity divi­sion di­rec­tor at Haad, at Ara­bian Travel Mar­ket yes­ter­day.

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