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South Korea plans to attract 700,000 medical tourists by 2027 by easing restrictions on international arrivals and creating clusters across the country that combine healthcare services and tourism.
According to measures announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Monday, the Korean government plans to improve immigration procedures, ease unequal distribution of medical services in regions, boost industry competitiveness, and improve global recognition.
Under the four strategies to achieve the target of attracting 700,000 medical tourists, the government will aim to raise the number of healthcare institutions allowed to apply for e-visa on behalf of foreign patients to 50 or more from 27 last year.
It also plans to promote medical and tourist products designed to target VIP and long-stay patients, with marketing approaches involving Korean cultural content, such as K-pop and TV series.
It will also expand and promote highly advanced medical programs such as cancer treatment, transplants, and Korean herbal medicine.
Last year, a total of 248,000 medical tourists visited Korea, which is about half of the number before the pandemic.
Korea plans to resume its transit visa exemptions for transit passengers following a suspension during the pandemic.
Under the exemptions, for example, a group of Chinese tourists that arrive at Incheon International Airport to transfer to Gimpo International Airport are allowed for up to 5 days of stay.
The government will also develop six wellness and medical treatment tourism convergence clusters in major cities such as Incheon and Daegu by integrating medical services and local tourism for foreign patients and their caregivers.
Highly advanced technologies, in the meantime, will be used for broader use of remote medical services and post-treatments for foreign medical tourists as part of the government’s efforts to make legal non-contact medical services.
By Shim Hee-jin and Han Yubin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]