The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) recently stated that 337,011 medical and health tourists visited in 2018 producing revenue of AED1.163 billion (US$317 million) worth of medical expenditures from visiting international health tourists over the same period. IMTJ looks at the numbers.
The Dubai Health Authority data includes locals and expatriates from other parts of the UAE and may also include expatriates living in Dubai.
Despite many initiatives and considerable spend on marketing and advertising Dubai as a medical travel destination, the figures have not increase as hoped. 2015 saw over 300,000, but the numbers for 2018 are lower than for 2017.
Total international medical tourists
Source: Dubai Health Authority
Although earlier targets of over a million have been reduced, the DHA stated target for 2020 of 500,000 medical tourists could now be under new scrutiny.
Dubai generated US$390 million from medical tourism in 2016, according to the DHA and US$317 million in 2018. The 2020 target is US$700 million in revenue.
According to the DHA, 33% of international patients came from the Arab and GCC countries, with 30% from Asia and 16% from Europe. The other 21% is from within the UAE and Africa. 2016 figures saw 37% from Asia, 31% from Gulf and Arab states, 13% from Africa and 15% from Europe. The other 19% was from within the UAE and Africa.
For 2018, the greatest number from Arab & GCC countries were from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. In Asia, India, Iran and Pakistan were the main suppliers, while Italy, UK and France led from Europe.
The key specialties attracting medical tourists are dental, orthopaedic, dermatology, ophthalmology, health and wellness, cosmetic surgery and fertility.
Dental tourism is increasing in popularity and accounts for 46% of the total, followed by orthopaedic (18%) and dermatology (10%).
Health and wellness tourism is gaining popularity among Asians, followed by Arabs and European nationalities. Africa is rapidly developing source market for dental and orthopaedic treatments.
There has been a 9% growth in the number of healthcare facilities vetted and included in the health tourism DXH Group member programme. DXH.ae, the electronic portal for health tourism lists over 600 packages from 72 healthcare facilities that include 18 hospitals and 54 specialties centres.