Facilities at Rashid Hospital. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News archives

Dubai: With more than Dh1 billion in medical tourism revenues in 2015, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has projected an influx of nearly 1.3 million medical tourists by 2021.

The annual revenue from medical tourism is estimated to increase by 13 per cent every year in the next five years.

Witnessing a boom in the medical tourism sector, Dubai’s 26 hospitals, both private and government, received nearly 630,831 health tourists last year, of which 298,359 were foreigners who came from abroad, accounting for nearly 46 per cent of the total, DHA officials said.

Keeping this quantum leap of revenues in mind, the Dubai Health Experience (DXH) was launched in April by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of the Dubai Executive Council. The project aims to strengthen medical tourism in the city, attracting 500,000 medical tourists from abroad, and making Dubai a favourite global destination for medical tourism

To fulfil the projects goals a DXH group was formed with 25 members — consisting of medical facilities in Dubai and other partners offering logistic services — who will provide their services to medical tourists.

During a ceremony where the partners held their first meeting and were given membership certificates last month, Humaid Al Qutami, chairman of the Board and director-general of DHA, said the authority is keen on reaffirming its partnership with all parties supporting DXH.

“We are certain that our partners are putting in all their efforts to ensure the support of this project. We appreciate all the contributions made by each partner,” he said. The number of medical tourists are projected to increase by 13 per cent for the next five years. This means that by 2021 1,313,360 medical tourists are expected to visit Dubai, out of which 692,191 would be internal and 621,169 from abroad, going by the current trends.”

Al Qutami commended Emirates airline, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai Statistic Centre (DSC) and General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) for their support.

Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, director of Health Regulation and Dubai Medical Tourism Project, said the meeting between the DXH group members helped discuss a number of vital issues and the way forward.

“The GDRFA has pledged to facilitate and make medical tourism visa procedures smoother to support and elevate medical tourism in Dubai. The meeting with the partners also helped outline the plan and the steps needed in the next phase,” she said.

DXH also collaborated with DSC in compiling medical tourism statistics from Dubai’s 26 hospitals.

A report by the DSC has revealed that the majority of the tourists who visited Dubai for medical treatment in 2015 came from Asian countries (43 per cent), 29 per cent came from the GCC, 15 per cent from European countries, seven per cent from African countries and five per cent from America. Most of the tourists sought treatment in Dubai for osteoporosis, fertility, dermatology and plastic surgery.