21 August 2008

Australia to operate in medical tourism

The Australian tourism industry is looking to take a new direction into health and medical tourism, reports ABC News, after the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) formed a panel to discuss how to tap into the billion-dollar market.

In the midst of global concerns about a lagging tourism industry, the Australian tourism industry is looking for different strategies to lure more international people to visit Australia

The panel has been formed to conduct risk and cost assessments of introducing health tourism to Australia, which would include beauty and spa treatments, counselling, and surgery. 

Matthew Hingerty, the panel’s Managing Director, said the health tourism market could reel in more revenue than the booming educational tourism market.  He added that exported medical travel from the US alone will be worth USD$162 billion by 2012, as predicted by Deloitte in this week’s The Economist. 

"We believe that we can model the development of health tourism in the same way that we have built education tourism into a $10 billion annual industry for Australia," he said.

The Gold Coast is expected to reap the biggest benefits from health tourism in the country. 

"We're looking at having the first annual health and wellbeing tourism conference next year and the Gold Coast picks itself as the destination and we are in talks about that at the moment, so I think the Gold Coast stands to benefit very strongly if Australia goes into this market in a significant way," Mr Hingerty added.

The ageing baby-boomer population in the UK, the US, and China are predicted to be the biggest contributors to the global health tourism market, reports the e-Travel Blackboard, which are Australia’s key tourism markets.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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