January 11, 2013, 8:47 pm
By Mario Andree
With leading hospitality industrialists raising caution over the achievability of government set goals for the tourism industry, taking to consideration the drop in last year’s growth, despite the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority predicting a 30 percent annual growth since 2009, a new company was recently formed to provide and promote medical tourism.
The government anticipates more than 2.5 million arrivals by 2016 and foreign exchange earnings of US$ 2.75 billion, ‘Healing Journey’, a new medical tourism service provider, hopes to attract high yielding foreigners and the Diaspora to support the government’s ambitions.
Medical tourism has not been a key area of focus, despite more than 950,000 arrivals were recorded last year. ‘Healing Journey’ launched its website to promote the local medical sector and would voyage on a vigorous marketing campaign to promote Sri Lanka as a leading medical destination.
Healing Journey Director Sanjaya Padmaperuma said the company expected to attract more than 200 patients in its first year.
According to Padmaperuma, there was a large demand from the western markets for medical assistance and Sri Lanka has an upper hand with its services to cater those markets.
The product which would be offered will consist of tours around Sri Lanka promoting both medical and leisure travel.
Addressing queries raised by the media, Padmaperuma said that the company was not competing with the large medical tourism offering countries initially. However, the price structures offered to patients would be competitive.
According to him the current issues in the local medical system were not expected to hamper the company’s efforts to promote Sri Lanka as a medical destination with leading private hospitals offering services on par with international standard.
Initially, the company would operate with Durdens Hospital and Ceylon Tours and would expand to other hospitals in the longer run. So far, several leading local doctors have signed up to offer their services and the company is the process of recruiting international professionals to offer superior services.
Tourist arrivals for the first 11 months of this year increased by 16.5 percent to 883,353 from 758,458 a year earlier, the last published Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority data showed.