Sri Lanka’s ambition to compete with market giants like India, Malaysia and Thailand in the South Asian medical tourism industry has invigorated the country’s healthcare vertical. Most foreign patients to Sri Lanka hail from neighbouring countries such as Maldives and Seychelles, but the rising cost competitiveness of healthcare services and availability of internationally trained staff are attracting patients from far-flung locations. Once the country modernises its medical infrastructure, medical tourists from China as well as countries in South Asia and the Middle East are expected to flock to Sri Lanka. Similarly, its well established tourism sector will draw wellness tourists from European countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany.
“The government has identified medical tourism as a key driver of the country’s service exports,” observed Sujala Pradhan, Research Associate, Emerging Market Innovation, Frost & Sullivan. “In line with this vision, Sri Lanka offers incentives for high investments in medical tourism. For instance, it allows 100% foreign direct investment in the sector, offers subsidies on land intended for setting up medical tourism facilities, and seeks public-private partnerships with agents that can help it advance towards its goals.”
Sri Lanka Medical Tourism Industry Insights is part of Frost & Sullivan’s Emerging Market Innovation Growth Partnership subscription. The study analyses the drivers, restraints, government initiatives and growth opportunities in the medical tourism industry in Sri Lanka. It also presents a comparison of medical tourism indicators between Sri Lanka and select countries.
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Currently, only three hospitals in the country have the gold standard of Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation, but many more are preparing to join this elite list. Hospitals are also proactively partnering with insurance companies and referrals centres of foreign countries to obtain patients.
Cost is one of the biggest advantages that Sri Lanka enjoys over several other medical tourism destinations, as surgeries in Sri Lanka are almost 60-80% cheaper than in the US. The government wants to build on this advantage by increasing the efficiency of its transport infrastructure system and lowering the costs of accommodation and food to attract more tourists.
“Furthermore, the government has streamlined business establishment processes, simplified the licensing process, and fine-tuned the legal and administrative framework to draw more investments to the sector,” noted Pradhan.