SEOUL: Johor is looking at South Korea as the model to develop the state as the next medical tourism destination in Asean.
Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that South Korea’s success in positioning the country as a leading medical tourism destination was worth emulating.
“South Korea is far ahead compared with other countries in the region when it comes to medical tourism related services,” he told reporters here.
Mohamed Khaled said this during visits to two leading private medical centres Daejeon Wellness Hospital and DK Medical Centre last Saturday.
During the functions, the state investment arm Johor Corp had signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) with the two hospitals.
Under the MoU, Daejeon Wellness will set up a unit specialises in rehabilitation centre for central nervous system disorders at the KPJ Healthcare Bhd’s Tawakal Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
KPJ Healthcare will also cooperate with DK Medical Centre to offer plastic and reconstructive surgery starting with a unit at one of the KPJ hospitals in Kuala Lumpur before extending the services to Johor Baru.
He said that Johor needed to explore new revenue sources generated from the tourism sector especially in Iskandar Malaysia instead of depending on tourist-dollar from the shopping and entertainment segments.
“Medical tourism is a growing segment in the region and with the right marketing and promotion activities, Iskandar Malaysia can emerge as the leading medical tourism destination in Asean,” said Mohamed Khaled.
Plastic surgery in South Korea is a multi-million dollar business attracting not only South Koreans but also foreign tourists.
Mohamed Khaled pointed out men and women who underwent plastic and reconstructive surgery procedures in South Korea were those with high spending power.
“We are looking at the middle class group from Indonesia and India and even Singaporeans with a strong purchasing power to come to Iskandar Malaysia as medical tourists,” he said.
Mohamed Khaled said that for years, many middle-class Indonesians went to Singapore to seek medical treatment from private hospitals in the republic although the cost was much higher compared with Malaysia.
“Johor Baru’s close proximity to Singapore is an advantage in attracting the middle-class Indonesians to come for treatment at Iskandar Malaysia,” he said.