ABSTRACT

As a result of the globalization of tourism and health-care systems, health tourism is now one of the fastest growing areas in tourism. With a high demand by health and medical tourists, a significant attention has been paid to the health tourism (Goodrich and Goodrich 1987; Gilbert and Weerdt 1991; Hall 1992, 2011; Pollock and Williams 2000; Mueller and Kaufmann 2001; Hunter-Jones 2005; Snyder et al. 2010). As of 2005, the value of this industry market was up to US$513 billion, together with an estimated 617 million people in the world traveling for medical tourism reasons (Herrick 2007). It was also estimated that Malaysia, Thailand, India, and Singapore alone would generate more than US$4.4 billion through this industry market by 2012 (Singh 2008). This high demand and the lack of supply that has accelerated health tourism can partly be explained by factors such as a long waiting period for treatment, increased interests in health and beauty care, growth in the size of aged populations, and the attractiveness of less expensive medical services that have leisure and recreation components. Health tourism has also linked hot springs, spa, seawater treatment, and medical examination and surgery to tourism (Hall 2011). It may therefore be argued that the development of health tourism, a high profit-added industry, has satisfied the needs of health tourists who are seeking better opportunities: lowcost and high-quality treatment, as well as generating tremendous value to the destinations via products and services as a means of increasing income, generating foreign exchange earnings, and developing tourism.