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By Sanath Nanayakkare

Revenue from medical tourism could help national economic recovery and growth, and therefore, we need a Presidential Task Force that could effectively speed up and harness the economic benefits of medical tourism, Ms. Dhammika Wijesinghe, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism said in Colombo on Saturday.

“The main impact of medical tourism is that it brings direct foreign exchange earnings and contributes greatly to government revenues. So we need to invest in the development of local infrastructure to attract foreign medical tourists for treatments. This will help generate foreign exchange revenue to improve the country’s balance sheet,” she said.

She made these remarks at the 135th Anniversary – International Medical Congress 2022 – hosted by Sri Lanka Medical Association, where a session on Medical Tourism was held.

She observed that a Presidential Task Force would need to be established to give impetus to this nascent industry in Sri Lanka.

“The government has developed a National Export Strategy where medical tourism is also included. But we have not been active enough to implement it. That would be a waste of our endeavor made in the first place. Sri Lanka’s potential and capacity for the development of medical tourism and wellness tourism is enormous. So beyond planning, we need real implementation of the plans and that’s where a Presidential Task Force could play a vital role.”

“Also, the political leadership and business community of the country need to show the world that they trust the health system and medical services in Sri Lanka. We have to demonstrate to the world that there is a very good health system in Sri Lanka; our doctors are highly qualified and trained and can cure any disease and help patients, and that they are on par with world class specialists.”

“Only then can we attract foreign visitors here to seek our medical services. Only then will foreign visitors decide to travel across international borders with the intention of receiving medical treatment in Sri Lanka.”

“There is a lot of potential for Sri Lanka to enter and establish its presence and position in the regional medical tourism market, but all relevant stakeholders need to come together to accelerate the demand and adoption of medical tourism, and make Sri Lanka a desired destination for medical tourists,” she said.

According to reports of fact checkers, Thailand medical tourism market is estimated to reach US$5,687mn in 2022. Sales of Thailand Medical Tourism market are forecasted to increase at a robust 18.4 % CAGR (compound annual growth rate). Total sales of Thailand medical tourism market represent 2%-7% of the global medical tourism market.

The Malaysia medical tourism market was valued at US$ 1.2 bn in 2020, and is projected to rise at a steady CAGR of 4.5% over the forecast period (2021-2028), with the market valuation reaching US$ 5.1 bn by the end of 2028.

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