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S. Korean medical industry sees surge in number of foreign patients

According to Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea,

The South Korean medical tourism industry is cheering an influx of foreign patients in recent years, with the number of inpatients and outpatients from across the world jumping over 20 percent a year in a decade.

According to Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) on Monday, the number of foreign inpatients and outpatients surged from 60,201 patients from 139 countries in 2009 to 364,189 patients from 190 countries in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate of over 22 percent.

In 2017, the number showed a sudden decline to 321,574 patients due to the diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over Korea’s decision to install the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system on its soil. But the following year saw a strong rebound, nearing 400,000 partly thanks to thawed relations between the two neighboring countries.

According to government data, the number of Chinese people who visited South Korea last month soared 48.1 percent on-year to 510,000, the highest level since March 2017 when China began to take retaliatory action against THAAD deployment.

On top of a growing number of foreign patients from other nations who are visiting Korea for high-quality medical services, the rising number of Chinese tourists to Korea could lead to boosting sales in Korea’s medical industry, the industry experts expected.

The growth of foreign patients is contributing to expanding the pie of Korea’s medical industry, with income from medical tourism getting close to 1 trillion won ($884 million) a year. Revenue from foreign patients in 2009 totaled 54.7 billion won, but it multiplied to 860.6 billion won in 2016. Income in 2018 is estimated to surpass 1 trillion won.

By Seo Jin-woo and Minu Kim

Copyrights Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea. All Rights Reserved.

Source: Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea (March 19, 2019)

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