Medical Tourism

New visa policy will benefit UAE’s tourism and hospitality industry

Experts believe that the declaration of 10-year residency visas for investors and specialists will encourage more medical professionals to UAE. As per reports, Dubai is emerging as a prime destination for medical tourism destination, with Mena region ranked first. By 2020, the Emirate is targeting 5,00,000 medical tourists from 3,25,000 in 2016, representing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.3 per cent. The rise in demand for healthcare services in the Emirate over the past 10 years was accelerated by population growth, medical tourism and increase incidence of life style related medical conditions.

The growth has been substantiated by the government by creating an investor friendly environment, establishing a healthcare free zone, ensuring transparency and introducing mandatory insurance to name a few initiatives. In the last five years, the growth of medical tourism and the support of government have resulted in the number of hospital beds increasing from 1,448 in 2012 to 2,434 beds in 2016, registering a CAGR of 13.7 per cent and increasing the contribution of private sector from 41 per cent to 53 per cent. Experts believe that Emirate’s healthcare sector has got a major potential for tremendous growth.

Anthony Hobeika, CEO at MENA Research Partners believes that the rising healthcare costs in western countries paves the way for growth of medical tourism sector in the Middle East. “Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the main cities to attract medical tourism due to their large network of international hospitals. Advanced healthcare centres and research departments allow Dubai and Abu Dhabi to be ranked the 16th and 25th position globally on the medical tourism index respectively,” he said.

According to MENA Research Partners (MRP), $350 billion will be the revenue of the tourism industry in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) by 2027. The CAGR of UAE and Saudi Arabia are expected to grow at five per cent over the next 10 years. Currently, the UAE and Saudi Arabia constitute around 50 per cent of the Mena tourism market. Leisure tourism generated approximately $115 billion to the region in 2017, with Dubai having 15 million visitors in 2017 and was ranked as the sixth most visited city in the world.