Over 500,000 outbound medical trips taken in 2016
Outbound Chinese medical tourism is on the rise, with claims of over half a million travelling overseas for health care.
According to Ctrip, China’s largest online tourism agency, in 2016 over 500,000 outbound medical trips were taken, five times of the number in 2015. Average spending is claimed to exceed RMB 50,000, ten times the amount of expenditure for individual overseas trips, making medical travel the most expensive type of all themed travel products.
They seek physical checks in Japan and the USA, anti-aging injections in Switzerland, eye care and bone treatment in Germany, cosmetic surgery in Korea or Thailand or Japan, and assisted reproduction in the USA or Europe.
Ctrip advertises thousands of different overseas health tours, and the company found that in 2016, health checks in Japan and the US were most popular, accounting for over 50% of bookings. The company also found that most people who choose checks are in their 40s, while young women aged between 20 and 30 form the largest consumer group for cosmetic surgery trips to Korea, Thailand and Japan.
As well as the lack of primary care, the inadequate and uneven distribution of medical resources is an important reason why affluent families seek better treatment outside China. There is a great market potential in second- and third-tier cities, where medical and healthcare needs are not properly taken care of.
The total number of medical tourism agencies in China is not known, but China Business Weekly estimated that 300 new agencies were set up in 2016. Travel agencies are also keen to get into health and medical tourism.
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