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  • Malaysia Health Travel Council targets RM1.3b from medical tourism in 2017

    Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA — The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) is targeting RM1.3 billion revenue from medical tourism this year.

    MHTC CEO Sherene Azli said about 900,000 medical tourists contributed more than RM1 billion in revenue last year.

    “This year we are looking at one million medical tourists with about 30% growth in revenue,” she told reporters at the announcement of the 2017 theme “Share My Love” for the Malaysia Loves You campaign.

    In order to achieve this target, MHTC will promote targeted services to Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Myanmar and India.

    Sherene said the majority of medical tourists seeking treatment in Malaysia are from Indonesia, who contribute 70% to revenue.

    The top five treatments that medical tourists seek in Malaysia are cardiology, oncology, orthopedic, IVF and blood-related treatments.

  • Outlook of medical tourism sector expected to be positive

    Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA — The outlook of Malaysia’s medical tourism industry is expected to be positive in the long term with the burgeoning demand for healthcare services, both domestic and international, coming from especially an increasingly affluent and ageing population, due to reasonable pricing.

    Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF) Research Equity Analyst, Athila Razali, said most treatments, such as cardiovascular as well as upper and lower gastrointestinal, will cost more overseas compared to Malaysia.

    She said the neighbouring countries, Indonesia and Singapore, formed the largest chunks of medical tourists, with the industry also seeing an increase in the flow from West Asia and other Western countries.

    “Malaysia, with rising medical expertise in various healthcare areas, is also seeing an increase in interest in wellness/disease prevention treatments coming from countries with higher spending capacity,” she told Bernama.

    However, Athila said, medical tourism was still a small contributor to the Malaysian economy, citing the figures by the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC).

    As of 2015, the revenue generated via medical tourism stood at RM1 billion, contributed by more than 850,000 medical travellers to Malaysia and the government aimed to increase this to RM1.3 billion.

    “We do think that despite the small contribution currently, it will grow further, especially with the addition of new private hospitals throughout Malaysia providing various medical expertise and support,” she said.

    MIDF said the current currency condition has also made Malaysia a more attractive medical tourism destination as it became increasingly affordable to seek treatments here.

    “The good reputation of Malaysian healthcare system abroad also encourages the inflow of medical travellers.

    “The government is also encouraging the private healthcare players, such as IHH Healthcare and KPJ Healthcare, to have their hospitals MHTC-certified to increase the chances of being the preferred medical tourism destination,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Prince Court Medical Centre (PCMC) Chief Executive Officer, Chong Yee Mun, said Malaysia, a multi-cultural country with doctors internationally recognised and qualified, has a high standard of healthcare.

    “Malaysia has a wide cross-section of different cultures, races and religions.

    “In addition, it has a wide range of languages, coupled with international qualifications from UK, US, India and Australia, Malaysia is seen as an ideal location to attract visitors,” Chong said.

    Chong said visitors to Malaysia would find it worthwhile to “kill two birds with one stone” as medical seekers were able to enjoy the tourism part, with numerous historical locations, cheap shopping and varieties of food.

    With more people seeking treatment here, local industries such as travel, hospitality and retail would flourish, he said.

    “Together with the local travel industry, these will bring in foreign tourists to support the local economy,” he said.

    Currently, Chong said, the general medical examination, fertility treatments, orthopaedic surgeries, cancer services and specialised health checks were among the top sought treatments for foreigners.

    “We are seeing increasing demand for specialised health checks by expatriates, especially in the oil and gas sector, as the occupational health requirements for this sector are pretty stringent,” he said.

    In the US, a heart bypass surgery will typically cost around US$70,000 to US$200,000 in comparison with the average price of US$9,000 here.

    Gleneagles Hospital and Medical Centre (GHMC) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adzuan Rahman, said Malaysia has an efficient, cutting-edge technology and a widespread of healthcare system that added to the attractiveness of medical tourism.

    “Malaysia has over 139 public and 260 private hospitals respectively. Therefore, one need not worry about being placed on a long waiting list,” he said.

    Adzuan said GHMC was the first hospital in Malaysia to be equipped with Gamma Knife, a neurological treatment that offered patients painless, incision-free stereotactic surgery performed with extreme precision to shrink tumours and kill cancer cells while sparing healthy tissues surrounding the targeted area.

    With medical tourism on the rise, he expected the Malaysian health and wellness sector to grow at 11 per cent.

    “The sector is forecast to grow at 11 per cent between 2015 and 2020, and could exceed US$20 billion (US$1 = RM4.43) by 2025,” he said, adding that medical tourism contributed 10 per cent to GHMC’s revenue last year.

    “Malaysia, being a halal-friendly country, is an added bonus to Muslim foreigners which means that halal alternatives such as medicine and food are easily available here,” he said.

    On the outlook, Adzuan said the government aimed to increase and develop healthcare as an engine of economic growth through private sector partnerships and investments.

  • Malaysian delegates achieve success at ATF 2017

    Putrajaya, MALAYSIA — Malaysian delegates successfully participated in various components of the recently concluded ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2017in Singapore and achieved their objectives.

    Over 1,000 appointments with international buyers were made by Malaysian sellers at the three-day TRAVEX at Marina Bay Sands. It provided an excellent and effective platform for them to raise awareness among international delegates and media on the many new and exciting tourism products, services, and events in Malaysia.

    Malaysian delegates to TRAVEX 2017 were comprised of 45 hoteliers, travel agents, theme park operators, and state tourism boards (Sabah Tourism Board, Sarawak Tourism Board, Tourism Johor, and Tourism Selangor).

    The TRAVEX, an important component of ATF, is the longest-running annual ASEAN leisure travel trade event, showcasing the largest contingent of ASEAN sellers. The key component of the three-day event was the travel trade-only exhibition and business meetings. It served as a dedicated platform for travel and tourism suppliers in ASEAN to explore business opportunities with international buyers and vice-versa.

    This year’s ATF attracted over 300 buyers from 57 countries and more than 400 exhibitors, representing companies and properties from 10 ASEAN countries, as well as 35 international media.

    The Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Datuk Hj. Ab Ghaffar A. Tambi led the Malaysian delegation to ATF 2017. He represented the Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia at all ATF ministerial meetings, held at the Pan Pacific Singapore. The Deputy Secretary General (Tourism) of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Nor Yahati Awang represented the country at all NTOs Meetings.

    They were accompanied by Tourism Malaysia Deputy Director General (Advertising & Digital) Dato’ Sri Abdul Khani Daud, Tourism Malaysia Director of International Promotion Division (Southeast Asia) Syed Yahya Syed Othman, and the Director of Tourism Malaysia Singapore Ishak Ismail.

    At the meetings, Malaysia pledged to give its full support and assistance to ensure the success of Visit ASEAN Year 2017 and Visit ASEAN@50 Campaign.

    The National Tourism Organisation (NTO) Media Briefing by Malaysia was held on 19 January at Marina Bay Sands and was attended by 42 international media and corporate guests. The briefing was conducted by Dato’ Sri Abdul Khani Daud, who provided the latest updates on Malaysia’s tourism performance and a forecast of the country’s tourist arrivals and receipts for 2016.

    He also presented Tourism Malaysia’s promotional initiatives in 2017 and some of the major events that are scheduled to take place around the country this year, besides highlighting the new and upcoming attractions in Malaysia. In addition, he also shared Malaysia’s initiatives and support to ensure the success of Visit ASEAN@50 Campaign.

    At the ASEAN Tourism Awards & Closing Ceremony, awards for community-based tourism were delivered for the first time to honour outstanding tourism communities’ social, historical and natural assets and their compliance with practical issues such as accommodation, safety and hygiene. Recipients of this award from Malaysia were Koperasi Pelancongan Mukim Batu Puteh Kinabatangan Berhad (KOPEL), Koperasi Komuniti Kampung Kilim Langkawi Berhad, and Mah Meri Cultural Village.

    Besides that, five homestays in Malaysia received the homestay award – Homestay Parit Tengah, Batu Pahat, Johor; Homestay Seterpa, Kota Bharu, Kelantan; Homestay RH Benjamin Angki, Sibu, Sarawak; Homestay Walai Tokou, Kundasang, Ranau, Sabah; and Homestay Bukit Kuda, WP Labuan.

    ATF 2017 was organised by Singapore Tourism Board from 16 to 20 January. The event was comprised of TRAVEX, ASEAN Tourism Conference, ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) Meetings, ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meetings, and Meetings of the three ASEAN Travel Trade Associations.

    Themed “Shaping Our Tourism Journey Together”, it reflected the continual, collective efforts by ASEAN member states to influence and address various challenges and opportunities, as they jointly develop the tourism industry in Southeast Asian region. To mark the 50th ATF also included the official launch of the “Visit ASEAN@50: Golden Celebrations” campaign.

    In brief, Malaysia’s participation in the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2017 in Singapore had been fruitful as it helped to open up various opportunities with international travel agents and create higher awareness of the country’s new and upcoming tourism products and services.

    The ASEAN Tourism Forum 2018 will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from 22 – 26 January 2018.

  • Langkawi hotels take top three spots in travel award

    Langkawi, MALAYSIA — Once again, travellers acknowledge the best hotels in Malaysia and Asia, through TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travellers’ Choice Awards for Hotels.

    The top three spots for hotels in Malaysia go to three Langkawi hotels: The Danna Langkawi, The Datai Langkawi and Casa del Mar Langkawi. The Danna Langkawi has taken the top spot for the third consecutive year in a row.

    Other Malaysian hotels that made it into the list in order are: Pangkor Laut Resort in Perak; Grand Hyatt in Kuala Lumpur; Tanjong Jara Resort in Terengganu; Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa in Sarawak; Four Seasons Resort in Langkawi; The Chateau Spa & Organic Wellness Resort in Kuala Lumpur; and Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur.

    In Asia, the top three hotels are all located in South-East Asia. They are: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, in Ubud, Bali; Shinta Mani Resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia; and Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa in Hanoi, Vietnam.

    Other Asian hotels that won are: JA Manafaru in Manafaru Island, Maldives; Kandolhu Maldives in North Ari Atoll; Hotel Eclat Beijing in Beijing, China; The Leela Palace Udaipur in Udaipur, India; Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur in Jodhpur, India; Viroth’s Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia; and Shinta Mani Club in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    These top three Asian hotels also made it to the world winners list, with Mandapa, taking the second spot; Shinta mani Resort coming in seventh; Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa at eighth; and tenth is JA Manafaru.

    Tops in the Best Hotel in the World list is Aria Hotel Budapest in Hungary and third the Turin Palace Hotel in Italy.

    The TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice award winners are based on millions of reviews gathered from travellers around the world in a single year.

  • DPM: Visa-free entry into Malaysia for Indian nationals living abroad

    Doha, QATAR — Indian nationals living outside India will now also enjoy visa-free travel to Malaysia for tourism, said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

    The Deputy Prime Minister said that it was appropriate that the Cabinet decision to provide the facility to tourists from India be extended to Indian nationals living outside the country so as to encourage them to come to Malaysia.

    “We welcome them to visit Malaysia as tourists. This will help increase our foreign exchange earnings as tourist arrivals will go up,” he told the Malaysian media here today.

    Ahmad Zahid is on a four-day working visit to Qatar at the invation of Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.

    Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, however, said this did not mean that security would be compromised as they too would have to undergo Airline Passenger Security Screening (APSS) before they are allowed entry into Malaysia.

    According to Ahmad Zahid, this flexibility would attract the approximately 500,000 Indian nationals residing in Qatar as businessmen, professionals and technical experts, to visit Malaysia.

    He said as chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Tourism, among his objectives during this visit to Qatar was to attract more tourists from this country to visit Malaysia.

    “Last year, only 5,000 tourists from Qatar were recorded. We need to increase efforts on attracting more tourists from West Asia through the support and cooperation of travel agents and companies,” he said.

    Ahmad Zahid said it was also his intention to increase the number flights from this region to Malaysia through collaboration with companies and agents handling umrah (minor Haj) packages.

    “I will discuss on this with companies offering umrah packages while I am here,” he said.

    The Deputy Prime Minister said during his visit to Qatar, he would also hold bilateral talks with the country’s leadership in an effort to increase trade between the two countries.

    He said in the last two years, the trade volume between the two countries saw a decline, following the drop in oil and gas prices which had affected both countries.

    “I want to prove the commitment made before this, which is to reinstate Qatar as a country with big potential to Malaysia,” he said.

    He said in this regard, several agreements which were still being drafted by by the business councils of both countries, would be finalised soon.

    He said apart from agreements involving the travel and investment industries, agreements on exchange of security and defence information, staff exchanges and training would also be signed.

    Ahmad Zahid added that following Qatar’s selection to host the Fifa World Cup in 2022, companies from Malaysia would have the opportunity to be involved in the supply of goods and equipment necessary for Qatar’s successful organisation of the most prestigious football tournament.

    Earlier today, Ahmad Zahid had an audience with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani and later with Sheikh Abdullah.

    Later today, Ahmad Zahid will attend a dinner with the Malaysian diaspora in Qatar at a hotel here.

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