The medical tourism industry has been rapidly growing of late. While factors like cost savings, quality healthcare and specialized procedures can be considered as the foremost reasons for the same, another salient feature that influences a medical tourist’s perception of a specific destination for treatment is the holiday included in the package. This is where travel agencies come into the picture.
The travel industry has also seen a tremendous growth in recent years along with medical tourism, with many travel agencies sprouting out of nowhere to arrange trips and holidays for medical tourists during as well as after their treatment. These agencies work in lieu with the patient’s medical condition as well as religious, cultural, and social beliefs when planning these trips, thereby contributing to the growth of medical tourism in a salient manner.
Travel agencies can be classified into different groups based on their services, with each group helping promote medical tourism in a country in its own way. For instance, there are specialist service providers who offer first and information about different travel destinations, plans and packages, etc. These factors would influence a medical tourist’s choice of destination for treatment.
Specialist medical tourism and travel agencies help deal with all the necessary travel and accommodation arrangements for medical tourists. They work closely with the healthcare provider to plan out each and every detail of the travel to perfection, including visas, flights, lodging, dining, transport options, insurance, even currency exchange, etc. This would minimize any hassles the patient would have to face during the trip. A reputed travel agency specializing in these services would then automatically influence a patient’s choice of a specific medical tourism destination, thereby leading to the growth of the industry in that destination.
Let us take an example to understand this better. India is one of the foremost medical tourist destinations in the world, specializing in procedures related to cardiology, urology, neurology and orthopedics, etc.
Most medical tourists who visit India for treatment do so for the latter’s affordable healthcare costs. However, the chance of enjoying a holiday in one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth seems to be another factor for India’s popularity among medical tourists.
Medical tourism facilitators work in close collaboration with reputed travel agencies in the country to plan the patient’s travel arrangements during and after the treatment. So while a medical tourist arriving in India would be able to visit nearby attractions during treatment (depending on the medical procedure), he/she would be able to recuperate in a luxury spa or wellness destination afterwards before heading back home. As such, travel agencies would work alongside with the medical tourism facilitator to ensure that this part of the medical tourist’s trip is handled well.
The growth of the medical tourism industry can be attributed to several well- known factors like cost and quality of healthcare. However, these details indicate that the growth of the medical tourism industry in a specific location would also depend to an extent on travel agencies and their quality of service.