· In 2014 over 40 million Chinese people left China for medical purposes spending approximately 1/2 billion dollar.
· The medical tourism industry in Israel brings about some 1.5 billion yearly. Additional medical tourism from China could expand this industry very significantly.
The Israeli Association for Medical Tourism at the FICC held a seminar for arranging a medical tourism delegation from China to Israel and also for the preparation of a delegation leaving for China which will include medical tourism companies from Israel. Today the medical network in China is expanding but not as prominent as in other western countries. Many middle and upper class Chinese people travel abroad for complex medical treatments, including to South Korea, Japan, U.S., Britain and Switzerland.
The ongoing close ties between the delegations of our two countries in recent years, climaxing with the visit of the Prime Minister of China in 2013, led to the fact where many Chinese doctors prefer to receive their training at the Israeli hospitals. The growing medical awareness among the Chinese citizens, the high level of the medical centers in Israel and the expertise of the Israeli hospitals in complex treatments and operations, placed Israel on the Chinese medical map.
During the seminar, members of the Medical Tourism Association got acquainted with the actual issues of the Chinese patients in choosing the proper medical treatment outside their country, with the Chinese culture and other relevant issues. Emphasis was made on the integration between recovery and convalescence following operations at the Dead Sea, which is considered an attraction by the Chinese.
Members of the association will soon hold introductory meetings with their counter-partners at the Chinese association to enhance the ties between the two organizations.
Mr. Mark Katsenelson, chairman of the Medical Tourism Association in Israel stated "today tourism in general is in a crisis and medical tourism in particular. Subsequently, it is important to develop new markets and China is a country with great potential for tourism and medical tourism. Medical tourism from China, while keeping the rules of ethics so as not to harm treatment of Israeli patient, is the most efficient solution to expand the budgets of the public hospitals in Israel while protecting the medical system in Israel.
According to Mr. Ronen Solomon, Director of the Israeli Medical Tourism Association at the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce: "Contrary to the prevailing opinion that a medical tourist replaces an Israeli patient, it should be noted that a medical tourist receives treatments at certain hours when the Israeli patient is not treated during these same hours. Today when the incoming medical tourism is significantly lower than in the past, there are still long queues at the public hospitals in Israel especially at the periphery. A medical tourist does not get any privileges as opposed to the Israeli patient. He makes an appointment same as everyone and arrives to Israel nearer to the date of his treatment. Mr. Ze'ev Lavie, Director of the International Relations Division at the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, continued: "The medical tourism from China has great potential in reinforcing the medical tourism in Israel and benefiting the country. The medical tourism in Israel is presently estimated at 1.5 IS billion/yearly. It should be noted that medical tourists return to their countries with much sympathy to Israel and this could be a major factor in increasing the regular tourism from China to Israel.