Chinese medical tourists to replace zero-dollar tourists

Despite fears of Thailand’s tourism industry shrinking, and the surging baht, Chinese medical tourism is growing and expected to continue. From rhinoplasty to liposuction, Thailand’s reputation for affordable and reputable cosmetic surgery clinics draws tourists from all over the world.

For many, it’s cheaper to fly to Thailand, get surgery and a vacation, and fly back than it is to get the procedure done in their own country. Of Thailand’s 35 million tourists in 2018, 9% are estimated to have been medical tourists, a large portion of which were Chinese. 

Economic shifts in mainland China could be a significant factor in this new wave of Chinese medical tourism. Even though the baht is currently strong, Thailand undercuts China by such a large margin that its still worth the trip.

With Thailand’s negative reaction to zero-dollar Chinese tourism, encouraging medical tourism seems to be a step in the right direction. 2016 saw the Thai government take extraordinary measures to crack down upon low quality Chinese tour companies, with mass arrests, company closures and bus seizures.

Last year China’s ‘two-child policy’ caused Chinese medical tourists coming to the Kingdom to seek fertility treatment to surge. Middle-aged couples flocked to Thai clinics in hope that they could conceive whilst still fertile. 

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