Dubai Health Authority
Dubai recorded a four per cent rise in arrival of heath tourists in 2019 compared to 2018. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai recorded a four per cent rise in the arrival of heath tourists in 2019 compared to 2018, officials said while announcing webinars on the latest trends in health tourism.

On Saturday, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) said its Health Tourism Department will continue holding a series of webinars in collaboration with the private health sector to discuss the latest trends in health tourism.

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Number of health tourists — people who travel specifically for medical care — to Dubai had reached 350,118 in 2019, DHA said. The majority of them were Asians at 34 per cent, followed by medical tourists from Arab and Gulf countries at 28 per cent and European countries at 17 per cent.

Dermatology, dental and orthopaedics were the most sought-after medical tourism specialities in 2019. Dubai also saw an increased number of visitors from Asian, Arab, Gulf Cooperation Council countries and European destinations for various health and wellness pursuits. Fertility and ophthalmology were some of the other niche specialities that attracted medical tourists to the emirate.

Wellness tourism

High-quality treatment

The aim of the webinars will be to discuss health tourism in the current global and local context and to discuss areas of focus, ways to provide medical tourists with enhanced health protocols, comfort and high-quality treatment.

The webinars will also discuss the rising trend of wellness tourism, which is an area that is emerging to be in demand with both residents and visitors in the emirate.

The wellness markets like resorts, spas and other operators are focusing their efforts, providing the best services to travellers and residents who are looking for rejuvenation and detox.

Patient care, experience and safety of travel are key parameters currently while destinations are slowly opening services for tourism. DHA’s educational webinars will reach out to insurance companies, medical tourism facilitators and top hospitals to maximise ability to attract inbound patients, discuss opportunities and address challenges being faced by the medical tourism markets.

Mohamed Al Mheiri, director, Health Tourism Department, DHA, said that DHA was keen to continue stakeholder engagement with the private health sector and the hospitality sector.

Advanced patient-care

He added that Dubai was the leading regional medical tourism destination and one of the top health-care destinations in the world — thanks to its advanced patient-care and state-of-the-art treatments, health-care diagnostics and related technology.

Dubai has 20 licensed centres specialising in traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM). These centres currently offer eight TCAM services and employ 234 professionals.

Discussing challenges and opportunities

He added that although there are challenges and uncertainties due to COVID-19 that the world is facing, there are also opportunities and new trends in the health tourism sector that are worth exploring. “Discussions with the private sector on challenges and opportunities as well as focusing on the current trend of wellness tourism and ways to provide the highest-quality of health care in a safe and comfortable environment are the key factors,” Al Mheiri said.

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Al Mheiri highlighted that the department will also discuss the use of telehealth and digital health services, especially for patients who require a second medical opinion.