Hospitals target Mideast market

HOSPITALS here are wooing well-heeled health tourists from the Middle East, with at least three tying up with hotels and travel agents to offer package deals. 

The region is the second, after China, to be targeted under SingaporeMedicine, launched last October to raise the number of foreign patients five-fold to a million a year by 2012. 

The Middle East has over 250 million people, with many wealthy patients from oil-rich nations like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar who prefer to go overseas for treatment. They are also being courted by countries such as Thailand and Malaysia.  

One partnership eyeing a bigger slice of the pie is Raffles Hospital and Raffles International Hotel and Resorts. Since January, the two have joined to offer hotel stays with health screening, cancer screening or Botox treatment to smoothen facial wrinkles. 

Their eight packages cost between S$390 (RM858) and S$1,995 (RM4,389) depending on the health service and hotel; the chain comprises Raffles Hotel, Raffles The Plaza, Swissotel The Stamford and Swissotel Merchant Court. 

About a third of patients in Raffles Hospital are foreigners, with Middle Easterners the fourth-largest group after Indonesians, Malaysians and mainland Chinese. 

National University Hospital, Raffles Hospital and Parkway Group Healthcare hospitals – Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth and East Shore – have also tied up with Singapore Airlines’ subsidiary Tradewinds Tours and Travel to offer similar packages. 

The Singapore Tourism Board has also been drumming up awareness of Singapore’s healthcare services in the Middle East. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network  

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