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Malaysia touts medical tourism

Malaysia touts medical tourism

9 Mary Wong Lai Lin
Mary Wong Lai Lin, CEO of Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, speaks to reporters in Kuala Lumpur last week. Photograph: May Kunmakara/Phnom Penh Post

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council’s (MHTC) senior official expects the number of Cambodian medical tourists travelling to Malaysia will be double this year after more and more healthcare promotions will be held in the Kingdom.

Mary Wong Lai Lin, chief executive of MHTC told reporters last week at a tourism conference in Kuala Lumpur that a lot of Cambodian people are travelling abroad each year to places including Malaysia where they like to take time to get a health check-up.

“We hope to increase that [number] by double. We started in certain countries where we do promotions to just a small number [of people] but we saw numbers [of tourists] more than double,” she said.

“What we are doing with the promotions is assisting us, it helps us to build awareness and to showcase Malaysia to Cambodia. We hope to increase this awareness. We hope that there will be more people from Cambodia and Vietnam getting treatment during their visit here.”

“So, by word of mouth, when they know there is good [treatment available] they will share with friends and family. With this, we will increase further,” she added.

MHTC’s data showed that some 1,308 Cambodian’s had medical treatment in Malaysia during their visit last year. However, Mary Wong Lai Lin, said the number is still low compared to other medical tourists in the region.

“I think that right now we lack these kind of promotional activities in Cambodia. I think the other [promoters] from Singapore and Thailand are doing it very often [in Cambodia].

“We only go to Cambodia once a year so that once-a-year program may not be sufficient to create [enough] awareness in Cambodia.

“We hope to come back more often to Cambodia or to Vietnam and Laos to do promotions,” she said.

Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, said that Malaysia is the main tourism destination for Cambodian people. “Actually, about 50,000 Cambodians visit Malaysia every year. While on their trip, some of them also take time for a medical check-up.”

“Now, the Malaysian government is promoting tourism to medical tourists, I definitely think that more and more people will be there particularly for medical treatment because they can get the high standard medical quality with well-trained doctors and affordable price compared to Singapore, Thailand, US and Australia,” he said.

Mary Wong Lai Lin said the Malaysian price is 25 per cent of the US price, while Thailand’s price is about 30 per cent, Singapore about 35 per cent and India 20 per cent.

“So, Malaysia is not the cheapest in the world but it is very affordable because it is very low compared to the US. We use US as the benchmark,” she said, adding that Malaysia had received about 392,00 healthcare travellers in 2010 and it has grown to 671,000 in 2012.

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