Ho Chi Minh City raises medical travel sector profile

In advance of Vietnam officially re-opening to medical tourists, the Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City Department of Tourism, in coordination with the Department of Health, has launched a new website on medical tourism, the first of its kind in the country.

The website offers information about the city’s medical tourism network and medical services.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health says that medical tourism brings in foreign currency earnings of US$2 billion.

In 2018, 300,000 foreign patients visited hospitals in the country for medical checks and treatment, with 57,000 inpatients. It is unclear if the 57,000 is within the 300,000 count. HCM City accounted for 40% of foreign patients.

The most common choices were dental care, cosmetic surgery, cardiological intervention, and fertility treatment.

According to Vietnam’s Department of Tourism, the country has seen a 52% decrease in international visitors and 50% turnover downturn in the first half of 2020.

To recover the sector, the HCM City Department of Tourism has linked with aviation and railway sectors, plus travel agencies to launch the largest-ever stimulus programme with 280 tours to the city. The city is also coordinating with localities to boost domestic tourism.

Although there have been no official announcements, Vietnam could be reopening to international tourists this summer. The country updated their visa program and will start issuing e-visas to citizens from 80 countries soon.

The delay in re-opening is partly that many tourists and medical tourists are from the USA and Vietnam fears letting Americans in too soon. The decision might be further delayed, after 15 new locally transmitted coronavirus cases were recently recorded in Da Nang.