Inbound international medical tourism to Hong Kong is on hold, with three-week quarantines, political uncertainty and no solution from talks with other countries. One local clinic is taking a different approach: partnering with hotels to offer domestic medical tourism packages.
Authorities in Hong Kong are in talks with other countries to share records of vaccinations and to allow travel, with the likelihood that the return of global travel will rely on sharing vaccination and other health data between countries.
As the pandemic spreads again, Hong Kong has extended the quarantine period from 14 days to 21 days, and has banned flights from the UK and South Africa.
Fearful of contracting the virus, many people in Hong Kong have also avoided hospitals and doctor’s waiting rooms for all but urgent health issues: private clinics have seen a dramatic drop in clients. The Central Surgery, a day surgery centre in Hong Kong, saw its business more than halve in 2020.
The centre is now partnering with hotels to offer domestic medical tourism packages, where discounted elective medical procedures are paired with a hotel stay. It has partnered with four hotel groups to launch what it claims is the city’s first domestic medical tourism package.
Packages cover a night in a hotel with an option to extend. Procedures include colonoscopy, gastroscopy, liposuction, breast augmentation and bilateral eyelid surgery. It also offers an annual health check-up, which includes a physical examination, screening for cancer markers, hepatitis A and B and an anti-ageing profile, plus a longer-term weight-management package.
Through the packages, local patients can save between 10% to 20% on the combined cost of the medical procedure and hotel stay. Charges vary depending on procedure and choice of hotel and room type.
The eight participating hotels are Two MacDonnell Road, Shama Central Serviced Apartments, The Murray, Butterfly on LKF, Butterfly on Wellington, and Ibis Hong Kong Central and Sheung Wan Hotel, all in Central on Hong Kong Island, and Page 148 and Butterfly on Prat in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.
The clinic recognises that scrupulous hygiene standards and precautionary measures are critical for success. Unlike hospitals, the centre does not have an emergency department and doesn’t treat COVID-19 cases. It also states that patients will have already seen a doctor and will be screened to make sure they have no symptoms.
The domestic package idea is a good opportunity to test capabilities before travel restrictions are lifted. Once a vaccine is widely available, there could be an influx of visitors from China and Macau. The centre is also looking at partnerships with airlines.