Medical Tourism and Travel Agencies: Match Made in Heaven?
Where there are desirable locations, there are tourists. And where there are tourists, there are travel agencies. The logical link between these two entities has driven business and trade across nations for many years, ever since travel was made accessible to the wider public at the turn of the century. Many factors play into this, including nations that are opening up their borders to travellers, cities that wish to grow by allowing immigration and customers who seek certain destinations or services elsewhere. Most recently it has been a need for affordable, reliable procedures in plastic and cosmetic surgery that has driven up travel numbers, and agencies are flourishing during this surge.
The market for cosmetic surgery medical tourism is currently worth 60 billion dollars, making it one of the most intriguing markets at the moment – but who is taking advantage? It seems customers have come first, all of them getting a good run for their money by finding affordable prices abroad. One article states that 77,000 people were treated in parts of Germany during surgery holidays or cosmetic tourism. Prague, Poland and Hungary have also seen growth from plastic surgery holiday packages. However, travel agencies still have to catch up with this growing trend.
There are some online groups that offer the whole package for customers seeking surgery holidays, booking the procedure, clinic, hotel and destination, and even sightseeing tours. The process of booking a plastic surgery holiday or international medical tourism can be stressful, with many different aspects to manage. First a customer has to decide on a clinic and then make sure they have a hotel available at the same time which will allow for their recovery. It only makes sense that an agency should take control and offer customers the whole package.
One article details another growth in the industry: hospital hotels. In Turkey, Costa Rica and Malaysia developers have integrated two in one specifically for medical tourists who are bringing money to the economy. At such locations you can have a procedure and expect to relax all in one place, with luxury accommodation such as pools and room service being part of the package. Perhaps this landmark will push other businesses into progress, especially as we knew back in 2012 that 1.6 million US citizens said they would consider travelling for surgery – the numbers have only grown.
We have yet to see the full extent of growth for the industry, but it looks more than hopeful with the current evidence and figures available.