Saturday May 12, 2012
Johari: State to tie up with private hospitals, hotels to offer attractive packages
By SHARON LING
KUCHING: Sarawak will adopt a new approach in promoting health tourism by offering packages that include both treatment and recuperation.
Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said this was in line with the current trend in health tourism, whereby treatment would be followed by recuperation and therapy in restful surroundings.
He said the new approach would involve private hospitals and hotels working together to come up with joint packages for tourists seeking medical treatment and check-ups.
“I have requested the tourism players to support this trend by providing places for medical tourists to recuperate.
“The hospitals themselves must think outside the box, meaning not only the treatment that they provide but where patients can recuperate after the treatment,” he told a press conference during a courtesy call by staff from the Kuching Specialist Hospital yesterday.
Johari said resorts like Damai and Batang Ai were potential places where patients could recuperate after receiving treatment.
“The hospitals can package it with the hotels, so that when patients are discharged after treatment, they can go to Damai or Batang Ai, for instance, to recuperate,” he said.
He also said the ministry was mainly targetting visitors from Indonesia for the health tourism sector in view of increased connectivity between Kuching and Kalimantan.
Last year, some 550,000 Indonesian visitors came to Kuching and Sibu for treatment and check-ups.
“Now that we have MASwings and other airlines like Batavia Air and Kalstar connecting Pontianak and Kuching, there will be more flights for visitors from our neighbouring country to come here for treatment at our private hospitals.
“With the quality services provided by our hospitals and competitive pricing, we expect that this year and in the coming years the number of health tourists visiting Sarawak will increase,” Johari said.
Meanwhile, Kuching Specialist Hospital general manager Yasser Arafat Ishak said the hospital had seen increasing numbers of patients from Pontianak thanks to the air connectivity.
He requested MASwings to consider introducing a Kuching-Jakarta route as the hospital also received some patients from the Indonesian capital.
In addition, he welcomed MASwings’ new Kuching-Balikpapan route, which will commence in October.
“We believe this is a good area that we can explore and we intend to do some health talks there in October. We are very positive that medical tourism in Sarawak can prosper,” he said.