Health Tourism

Traveling for health and wellness is one of the most important tourist patterns of economic returns generated by the tourism industry, tourist destinations and the health sector. With the Kingdom's economic renaissance and the great development in the medical field, Health and wellness Tourism pattern has become most viable tourist and development pattern in the Kingdom aided by both natural and those created by the State and the private sector. Under the guidance of his Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, SCTH President, the Commission has paid particular attention to the development of health and wellness tourism through a number of steps by working with partners in the public and private sectors to provide the right environment and develop its products and services and programs.  SCTH has developed specifications, standards and procedures for the health and wellness tourism programs in hospitals, medical centers and health resorts an accommodation, contributing to this valuable tourism program.

What is Health and Wellness Tourism?

Health and Wellness Tourism is travelling to another city for the purpose of receiving medical or wellness services. It is divided into two categories:

  1. Health Tourism: travelling to receive medical treatment in specialized institutions jointly with tourism programs.
  2. Wellness Tourism: healthy people travelling to other cities to maintain their physical and psychological health through receiving certain services in specialized institutions.

Significance of Health and Wellness Tourism for the Medical Institutions:
Health and wellness tourism has several advantages for the medical institutions.

  1. Many medical facilities provide high quality medical services, but suffer from un-utilized excess capacity. These institutions are looking for ways to exploit it by attracting other customers from out of town, whether from other cities in the Kingdom or from other countries.
  2. Accessing new markets at lower costs: Tour operators can market health and wellness tourism in regions and cities that cannot access medical facilities at a lower cost for an extended period. This can provide more clients for these installations.
  3. Ability to control the demand for services: Flexibility in marketing health and wellness tourism programs can intensify or reduce marketing based on the capacity available in the facility services.
  4. Accessing clients with greater financial capability or desire to spend on additional services: Health and wellness tourism programs that can provide peace of mind can be attractive to a lot of those wanting to get them and pay for the services they offer.
  5. The patient will focus on the medical treatment and services, while another party takes care of his needs such as the transportation, accommodation and related programs, which in return promote the patient desire to receive additional tourist services.
  6. Health and wellness tourism programs attract medical cases from outside the perimeter of the facility which supports interaction with new medical conditions that can increases the expertise of the medical staff.
  7. The medical facility will focus on its essential work, while the other party –the tour operator - takes care of the additional work. 

The Significance of Health and Wellness Tourism:

Health and wellness tourism is one of the national tourism patterns stated in the National Tourism Development Strategy adopted by the Council of Minister. The health and wellness Tourism is characterized by a high rate of expenditure for the tourist trip, plus the length of the trip compared to other tourism patterns, the other visitors accompanying the patient, and the related sequent trips.

The importance of wellness and health tourism:

Health and wellness tourism programs and products have many benefits for the targeted sick and healthy people accompanying the sick. These benefits are as follows their importance for the tourist:
  • The reasonable prices: Health and wellness tourism programs and products provide medical and health services at lower prices since a number of medical, health and tourism services are provided with package rates including flat rate and discount in addition to the beneficiary's ability to choose the services at affordable prices from multiple choices in different areas.
  • Quality and Quantity: Tour operators look for medical and health institutions with international quality certificates, adopting international and local standards.
  • Availability of latest medical technology: Medical facilities participating in the tourism health and wellness programs ensure the availability and use of modern technology in their services as they care to participate in healing and health tourism to cover excess potential in those services involving high technologies.
  • Personal services: The availability of personal services and programs by the participating parties in the program, in addition to allocating specialized staff in these institutions to be responsible for meeting the requirements of the tourists.
  • No waiting: The health and wellness programs seek to provide tourism services to the tourists without having to wait, through arranging pre-defined date to be respected by the institutions as part of the contract between them and the tour operators.

Related programs:  Health and wellness tourism provides the tourists or their companions with the opportunity to visit the tourist attractions in the region and enjoy the interesting tourism trips during the treatment journey.

Success Factors of the Health and Wellness Tourism Packages:

The success of the health and wellness tourism packages requires the care of the participating medical institution and its adoption to the following criteria:
  1. The packages need to be within a comprehensive tourism program, including the treatment and other services such as travel, accommodation, transportation, and tourism programs for the tourists and their companions.
  2. Working with licensed tour operators by the SCTH which deals with the marketing and administration issues.
  3. The allocation of a person or department in the medical institutions to be responsible for the administration of the tourism program, in cooperation with the tour operator and in coordination with the tour guide, the institution, the patient or tourist and the departments of the participating institutions. 
  4. Creation of a website for the institution explaining its potential and services.
  5. Participation with the tour operator and other parties in the marketing of the tourism programs in specialized exhibitions and events.
  6. Providing assessment and monitoring program to improve the tourism services and programs
  7. Arranging agreements between the participating parties through obligatory contracts. 

Tour Operators' Role:

Tour operators play important roles in the field of health and wellness tourism, some of these are:

  1. Designing, developing and promoting the health and wellness tourism programs.
  2. Working with the health and medical institutions to design attractive tourism services and programs.
  3. Studying the target market needs.
  4. Working with medical institutions to develop and improve the provided programs.
  5. Increasing the number of trips and programs related to health and wellness tourism.
  6. Promoting tourist satisfaction and comfort during his/her trip through predetermined tourism programs and services.
  7. Reaching markets that are unreachable by the medical institutions.
  8. Providing all the required services in a single package, which is marketable and has greater attraction than the individual services when offered separately.