Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Medical Tourism in Malaysia: Prospect and Challenges

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Medical Tourism in Malaysia: Prospect and Challenges

Article excerpt

Abstract

Background: Tourism, combined with the phrase medical, seems to be a new form of tourism which has gained huge popularity in recent decades. Though, a number of literatures available with regard to the tourism industry and the competitiveness of the destination, however, the major aspects which determine the satisfaction of medical tourists are hardly focused specifically on Malaysia. There is a lack of empirical evidence in this area of study which needs to be bridged. Hence, this study aimed at investigating the various factors contributing towards the development of medical tourism in Malaysia.

Methods: As the purpose of the research was to find out various factors contributing towards the development of medical tourism in Malaysia, so this study used Structural Equation modeling (SEM) for data analysis. The target population for this study consisted of the medical tourists coming to Malaysia with the primary intension of seeking medical procedures other than sightseeing. A total sample size of 266 was collected through non-probability judgment sampling during the period between December 2012 and February 2013.

Results: The result confirms that destination competitiveness and service quality play an important role in the medical tourist's mind towards medical tourism aspect in Malaysia. Thus, Malaysia need to promote various medical success stories together with the services they offer to attract more foreign patients.

Conclusion: This study contributes to the theoretical development in the tourism industry by offering the structured relationship among various aspects contributing towards the development of medical tourism in Malaysia.

Keywords: Medical tourism, Destination competitiveness, Service quality, Customer service.

Introduction

Venturing abroad for medical care is not a new occurrence for the elites of developed countries. For this social group, the usage of medical care offshore is part of a standard design of intake of foreign goods and services, which in turn possibly cannot be observed. It has been promoted by many countries around the world owing to the fact that the idea produces these countries many benefits. Consequently, medical tourism is not just practical but also the economic approach for peo- ple to savor their vacation and obtain medical cure within the very same time. Tourism, combined with the phrase medical, seems to be a new form of tourism which has gained huge popularity in recent decades (1). This is due to multiple reasons such as; the increased demand for better health- care (2), rising healthcare costs in the US and many Europe countries (3) and the tough visa regulations imposed by the US and many Euro- pean countries due to the 9/11 incident (4). Hence, many countries around the world have started promoting medical tourism to gain from this emerging market (1).

Among the medical tourism providers, Asian countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and India are viewed being probably the most likely places for producing medical tourism due to their natural recourses and excellent quality service together with reduced price (5). Due to the very low labor expense in these Asian countries, customers are able to save up to 40 to 60 percent comparing to US or Western European countries (6).

Nonetheless, the overall hospitality industry is un- der severe pressure due to huge competitive mar- ket (7). The author further added that, to remain competitive, focusing on customer's satisfaction has become very important as they are core for their business success. Being part of the overall hospitality industry, medical tourism sector also requires special focus on their customers for fu- ture sustainability. Though, there is relevant litera- ture available with regard to the tourism industry and the competitiveness of the destination, how- ever, the major aspects which determine the satis- faction of medical tourists are hardly focused spe- cifically on Malaysia. …

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