Vietnam’s untapped medical travel potential

Vietnam has an ambitious tourism strategy to attract 35 million foreign tourists by 2025 and 50 million by 2030. The country has not yet sought to actively promote medical and health tourism, and sector-specific policies and plans for developing the sector are still absent.

In 2019, 350,000 foreign patients visited hospitals in Vietnam for medical checks and treatment. The 350,000 figure is from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism in 2021, but the government’s 2020 tourism strategy references 80,000 medical tourists in 2017 with an annual growth of 20%, which would make 115,000 in 2019. This may not include dental tourism that is the key to medical tourism to Vietnam.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, in 2021 40,000 Vietnamese travelled outside the country for medical treatment each year to avoid queues, bed shortages and overworked doctors at home.

Vietnam has not actively developed health tourism and has no official data on the sector, despite having several suitable destinations including a number of hot springs. The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism sees potential in this sector, particularly where longer-term trips combine sightseeing with wellness treatment. It recognises however that there is a lack of research on its potential, and no government policies for the development of this type of tourism.