Penang sees exponential increase in medical tourism with border reopening
02 Jan 2023
The total revenue for Penang’s medical tourism has increased exponentially from RM66 million in 2021 to RM285 million in 2022, following the reopening of the country’s international borders.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said while the numbers achieved last year had yet to surpass that of the pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels, the resurgence of medical tourists to Penang had been very encouraging.
“We have attained nearly 50 per cent of what we used to earn in 2019.
“This is very good for our economy. It is something that we are proud of because it shows that Penang has survived as a tourism destination and we continue to attract visitors because we have so much to offer,” he said.
Chow said this at the Penang Centre for Medical Tourism (P. MED) video launch and signing of the Protocol of Medical Tourism collaboration with PT Citilink Indonesia here this afternoon.
Present were state Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin, consul-general of the Republic of Indonesia, Bambang Suharto, and consul-general of the Royal Thai Consulate-General, Khun Raschada Jiwalai.
Present were Citilink Airlines chief commercial and cargo officer Ichwan F. Argus and Citilink vice-president (sales and distribution) Emir Bustamam.
According to the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council, from 2015 to 2019, the industry has grown at a cumulative average growth rate of 17 per cent.
In 2019, Penang received nearly 480,000 medical tourists, generating RM730 million in revenue.
This amounted to nearly 50 per cent of the total revenue for Malaysia from medical tourism.
Yeoh said Penang had been the top contributor in terms of revenue generated for medical tourism in Malaysia, earning more than 50 per cent of the country’s pre-pandemic income.
“Indonesia has always been our major source market for medical tourism, given our language and cultural similarity.
“In the first 11 months of 2022, Penang welcomed almost 144,975 international medical arrivals, of which Indonesia contributed 54 per cent, followed closely by Bangladesh and India,” he added.
P.MED was established in 2015.
The precursor to P.MED was the Penang Health Association (PHA).
Due to certain issues within PHA that is now defunct, the Penang government and Yeoh have decided to set up P.MED to promote medical tourism.
From the initial nine founding members, it has grown to 13 private hospitals in the state.