Jordan- Regional turmoil hurts medical tourism

Mokhtar Thabet
Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Global Arab Network – The medical tourism sector is still witnessing a drop in revenues due to the loss of patients, particularly from two major traditional markets: Yemen and Libya.

According to Awni Bashir, president of the Private Hospitals Association (PHA), the number of patients seeking care in the Kingdom’s medical centres and accompanying visitors is expected to drop by 25 per cent by the end of this year.

As Jordan, which used to be a major regional medical tourism destination, has been severely affected by regional instability, PHA will start looking for other markets, beyond the region, Bashir said.

The association is working on a plan to promote the industry in other countries, like, for example, Kazakhstan, Bashir told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.

The tourism sector in general has been seriously affected this year as a result of the regional unrest.

Tourism earnings in the first six months of the year amounted to JD949 million, down from JD1.089 billion in the first half of 2010, according to official statistics.

The number of tourists who visited the country in the January-June period of this year dropped by 14.2 per cent, from 3.639 million in the same period last year to 3.124 million.

“We still have no cases from Libya and only a few from Yemen, which we used to consider as our major markets,” said Bashir, pointing out that the number of patients coming from Iraq and Kurdistan is not encouraging either.

In the latter case, Bashir attributed the low demand on the Kingdom’s private hospitals to difficulties patients face trying to obtain visas.

Annually, the medical tourism sector generates $1 billion on average. Over 240,000 patients from across the world receive treatment at the Kingdom’s hospitals.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health Abdul Latif Wreikat said the ministry established a medical tourism unit to facilitate issues related to the sector.

According to a statement that was e-mailed to The Jordan Times, the minister said an office will be inaugurated soon at the Queen Alia International Airport to assist those coming to seek medical treatment in the country’s hospitals.

At the same time, the official said that the ministry seeks to activate health attachÚ˜s at the Kingdom’s embassies so that they can help facilitate procedures for patients seeking treatment in Jordan.

Source: Global Arab Network.

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