Healthcare Travel Exhibition & Congress to focus on international industry expected to top $40 billion by 2010

From Argentina to Thailand, countries have benefited from the growth in travel for medical procedures and the business is set to expand in the Middle East, according to leading industry observers.

"As global healthcare choices expand, patients are travelling across the world to seek medical treatment," said Ayana Everett, Conference Producer of the first Healthcare Travel and Exhibition Congress taking place at Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Dubai, from 2-4 November 2008. "Internationally, healthcare travel is expected to become a $40 billion industry by 2010," Everett added.

"Going abroad for elective or necessary procedures is taking off and countries such as Jordan and Lebanon are already benefitting. With a population predominantly made up of expatriates, the United Arab Emirates has always been a major market for the medical travel business. Now the UAE has embarked on ambitious plans to make the emirates a major inbound destination for medical travel."

The UAE and other countries are hoping to emulate the success of places such as Singapore. In 2006, some 410,000 patients travelled to Singapore for healthcare and from 2012 hopes to attract one million medical travellers annually.

Based entirely around private businesses, global medical travel is a fiercely competitive market and substantial sums of money have been invested throughout the world. Healthcare travel is not only a matter of individual patients. Employers, insurance companies and governments are integral parts of the equation as well.

"The global economic downturn is expected to impact medical travel, as with all industries," Everett added. "The challenge is for providers, brokers and insurance companies to help customers on budgets to ensure they remain well-covered internationally at a competitive price. Providers who can manage that balancing act will have a competitive edge."

The Healthcare Travel Exhibition and Congress 2008 – under the theme of Globalisation of Healthcare - is an international event bringing together policy decision makers with payees of medical travel, specialised medical suppliers, travel providers, medical facilities and representatives of major destinations under one roof. The Congress is made up of four distinct conferences – the Healthcare Travel Congress, Global Healthcare Marketing, International Healthcare Operations and Financing and Insurance of Healthcare Travel.

Participating countries at the exhibition and congress include: Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Cyprus, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, India, France, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United States, Canada, Turkey and Pakistan.

Organised by IIR Middle East in association with the International Medical Travel Association, the Healthcare Travel Exhibition and Congress is supported by the UAE Ministry of Health, the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi. Platinum sponsors are Singapore Medicine. Gold sponsors are the American Hospital Dubai and Dubai Health Authority.