Malaysia grows medical tourism after coming late to the game


The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) is an agency under the Ministry of Health Malaysia, tasked to raise Malaysia’s pro le as a destination for world-class healthcare services. We asked MHTC CEO Sherene Azli to tell us more about the council.

We were latecomers into the game. Other than the state of Penang in Malaysia, which started a bit earlier, we were about 20 to 30 years well behind neighbouring destinations like Singapore and Thailand. Hence, when we wanted to get onto the bandwagon of medical tourism, one of the key things we recognised was that we needed to get a boost in order to be competitive in the industry.

Who are your members?

The MHTC Partnership Programme recognises healthcare facilities that provide excellent services to international patients. However, MHTC does seek to establish associate members such as travel agents or even airlines, who are essential players along the value chain of delivering end-to-end care to medical travellers. Through collaborations with such industry players, we are able to provide services such as our concierge and lounge services at two international gateways – Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Penang International Airport.

How is this market growing in Malaysia?

In terms of performance, from 2011 to 2017, we have been recording an average annual growth of 16–17 %. In 2016, we saw a 23% growth from 2015. In terms of spending, a medical tourist spends about three-to-four times more than a regular tourist. Medical tourists tend to also bring their family members along, numbers that are not taken into account in the calculation, so technically, the spill-over effect is really huge. Last year, we recorded about MYR1.3nn in medical revenues alone. So, with the multiplier effect, plus wellness, dental and other ancillary services, which are not included in that 1.3 billion, this will contribute about MYR4- 5bn to Malaysia’s GDP. If we do as well in terms of driving growth as we expect to, we project about MYR10bn contribution to the economy by 2020.

Photo: Sherene Azli CEO, Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC)

Hall 26a / Stand 117