Despite Lebanon’s prominence in health care, the country’s security situation has kept many potential tourists away, ministers said Tuesday.
Health Minister Wael Abu Faour and Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon were speaking at a news conference on medical tourism at Downtown Beirut’s Le Gray hotel.
“We are in need of an organized plan to facilitate medical tourism in Lebanon. This starts with a security plan for foreigners who come for tourism,” Abu Faour said.
“It is not impossible for the Lebanese to do [this].”
The medical tourism sector has exploded in recent years, with worldwide revenues forecast to reach $500 billion a year.
The term refers to when governments, insurance companies, corporations, or private individuals look abroad for medical treatment options, driven by a search for greater availability of services, lower costs or shorter waiting times.
The news conference comes ahead of the 10th World Health Tourism Congress, which will take place in Dubai on Sept. 5-7.
Experts on health tourism and corporate buyers will give lectures at the event, which promotes dialogue on medical tourism and provides networking opportunities and possible partnerships for those who offer such services.
Pharaon lamented that “Lebanon used to have the best hospitals in the East,” and said that by maintaining stability and avoiding further problems, the country will able to address the security issues that have prevented medical tourism from taking off.
“Hopefully, in 2016, we will be able to host an event with the WHTC to demonstrate how we can improve medical tourism in Lebanon by showing packages for checkups and many other [services], reminding people of the choices they have,” Abu Faour said.
The WHTC aims to offer health care providers the chance to create business relationships with corporate health care buyers around the world, matching services with demand.
“I hope that we can have an organized plan that we can all agree on, in order to show our strength in medical tourism,” Pharaon added.
© The Daily Star 2015Jul 2015