Malaysia competes to attract Myanmar medical tourists

Malaysia is seeking to attract more medical tourists from Myanmar.

Malaysia is stepping up efforts to compete with Singapore, India and Thailand to attract Myanmar medical tourists.

The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council has launched a year-long partnership with a local tourism agency.

Though the number of Myanmar patients travelling to Malaysia has increased, the total still lags far behind those travelling to Thailand and Singapore.

Malaysia has a disadvantage over the other two ASEAN members, which have signed visa exemption deals with Myanmar’s government. Thailand’s visa exemption agreement has already been implemented while Myanmar citizens will be able to travel freely to Singapore from December. Malaysia is the only ASEAN country that has not signed a visa exemption agreement with Myanmar.

Myanmar is still reviewing visa requirements for Myanmar citizens and possibilities for the future.

According to MHTC figures, in 2015, 12,000 Myanmar patients went to Malaysia compared to 10,000 in 2014

Myanmar’s healthcare system was badly neglected under the former military government and faces a number of challenges for delivering effective and affordable care. Hospitals lack basic supplies, medication and equipment while investment in the sector is limited.