by FRED DE SAM LAZARO ,  PBS | 2005-02-21

One of Thailand's most profitable tourist attractions is in the heart of the capital's business district. It's a hospital, though it doesn't look like one.

The $100 million Bumrungrad Hospital complex, with its western restaurants and mall-like atmosphere, was built 20 years ago for well-to-do Thais. But now, hundreds of thousands of foreigners are making it their travel destination. Curtis Schroeder, an American, is the CEO.

CURTIS SCHROEDER: We saw about 50,000 international outpatients in 1996. This year, we'll be closer to 350,000 patients that are non-Thai coming to this hospital. People have asked what our next step is. We'd like to be the Mayo Clinic of the east. I think it's an excellent model.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Across Asia, in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, a multibillion-dollar medical tourism industry has sprung up. Here in Thailand's capital Bangkok, at least six hospitals have begun aggressively courting tourists in need or want of medical care.