More flights to Penang for healthcare tourism

(From left) Penang Adventist Hospital’s Caleb Lim, Koh, Yeoh and Firefly’s Captain Hamdan perusing details of the hospital’s Wellness Screening Programme during a press conference in Komtar. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

PENANG’s booming healthcare travel industry has led Firefly to introduce Penang-Medan-Banda Aceh flight routes using Boeing 737 jetliners to cater to rising demand.

To reward Indonesian travellers who have flown here with Firefly to seek healthcare services, Penang Adventist Hospital has come up with special promotions for its Wellness Screening Programme.

Under the programme, Indonesians will enjoy a 30% discount for two and 15% discount for one, provided there is proof that they arrived in Penang from Medan or Banda Aceh using Firefly.

Penang Adventist Hospital chief executive officer Ronald Koh Wah Heng said the special offer for its wellness screening packages were exclusively for Firefly passengers flying between Penang and the Indonesian cities of Medan and Banda Aceh.

“This promotion is to encourage patients and regular travellers to undergo health screening, ultimately leading to early detection of diseases.

“Early detection of any disease is important as it catches the disease at a very manageable point, hence the patient will not need to undergo chronic effects of the disease to have a quick recovery,” he said at a press conference in Komtar.

He said this strategic collaboration marked an important milestone for the hospital in its role to boost healthcare tourism in Penang.

“As a medical establishment in its 98th year now, Penang Adventist Hospital has always strived to provide the best medical care to our patients,” he said.

Penang tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said this initiative between the hospital and the airline came at a good time as Malaysia was well into the endemic phase of Covid-19 and was seeing the return of tourists and travellers from countries such as Indonesia.

“Penang has invested in healthcare tourism and has attracted a significant number of medical tourists, generating more than RM352mil in revenue last year.

“Currently, I am looking into attracting international patients from the South Asia region, which has a population of 1.9 billion, such as from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

“According to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), there are about 800,000 Bangladeshis seeking treatment overseas yearly and this will be a great opportunity for us to bring them to Malaysia.

“Studies by MHTC have shown that this region has the highest share of out-of-pocket health spending, standing at 40% of current health expenditure in 2018,” he said.

Firefly chief operating officer Captain Hamdan Che Ismail said the company recognised that Penang had always been the destination of choice for healthcare tourism and decided to support the initiative.

“I believe this collaboration will boost our healthcare tourism and at the same time promote Penang to our Indonesian partners.

“This is in line with the mission of our company to contribute to the much-needed economic growth of our country,” he said.

The flights commenced on Feb 17 with daily return flights from Medan, while flights from Banda Aceh would be four times weekly.

The special promotion for Penang Adventist Hospital’s Wellness Screening Programme for travellers using Firefly airlines ends on Aug 31.

For details, call 04-222 7779 or 04-222 7732.

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