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Government to offer special packages to boost medical tourist numbers.
The authorities have prescribed a number of new measures to boost medical tourism in Dubai. According to estimates, around 107,000 medical tourists visited Dubai in 2012 and the revenues generated totaled Dh652.7 million. With the visitors coming to Dubai for medical treatment rising by 15% annually, the number is expected to rise to 170,000 in 2016. By 2020, it is expected to swell to 500,000.
To keep pace with the growth, along with upgrading existing facilities, special packages will be offered to patients. This will include the cost of treatment, visa fees and travel expenses of patients along with their attendants. This travel incentive is expected to be rolled out by the end of this year.
Currently, patients seeking treatment in Dubai can enter the emirate with a 90-day medical visa. The visa is renewable twice, taking the total number of days that one can stay to 270. Special visas for medical tourists according to the duration of treatment they are undergoing will also be launched.
Dubai is targeting patients mainly from Russia, the CIS countries like Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, South Asia and GCC states. The seven specialized areas expected to find the most number of takers among medical tourists are orthopaedics, sports medicine, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, dental procedures, dermatology and preventive medicine.
Around 18 private and four public hospitals will be built in the next few years, with the number of private sector healthcare staff expected to increase by more than 3,800. Around 25,800 health professionals of various nationalities are currently operating in Dubai.
Rashid Hospital in Oud Metha is set for a major revamp with a specialized rehabilitation center being constructed. Two adjacent hotels are also expected to come up to where the patients undergoing treatment who do not need hospitalization can have their lodgings.
• Number of medical tourists set to rise to 500,000 by 2020
• Special visa, travel packages for medical tourists to be launched
• New private and public hospitals will be built in years to come
Source: S. Dhar, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer