Private hospitals in Jordan want to attract patients from new markets this year to avoid a gloomy outlook.
Private Hospitals Association (PHA) President Fawzi Hammouri told The Jordan Times on Sunday that the medical tourism industry saw a 15 per cent drop in revenues and in the number of patients from regional and international countries in 2015 due to visa restrictions on some nationalities, such as Yemenis and Libyans.
Hammouri said the visa restrictions imposed by the government late last year affected the number of people seeking medication in the Kingdom’s private healthcare facilities.
In 2014, over 250,000 patients were treated in private hospitals in Jordan, he noting, adding that the traditional markets for the hospitals were Yemen, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Iraq.
“These were the most lucrative markets for us,” the PHA president said, pointing out that a strategy to promote the sector in new markets is currently being prepared.
The campaign will target Saudi Arabia, Oman, Algeria, Chad, Nigeria and Kazakhstan, Hammouri noted, and it includes TV commercials, advertisements in print media, social media, exhibitions and inviting health officials in these countries to visit Jordanian healthcare facilities within familiarisation tours, in addition to inviting journalists in these countries to write about the industry.
“The reason why we want to launch the promotion campaign is because we are afraid that 2016 could be worse than last year if visa restrictions continue,” he added, indicating that nationals of the countries targeted in the new strategy that need visas to enter the Kingdom are from Algeria, Chad and Nigeria.
The strategy seeks to offset the drop that private hospitals recorded in 2015, Hammouri said, stressing that medical tourism represents around 40 per cent of the revenues of hospitals.
In 2014, private hospitals in Jordan recorded around JD1 billion in revenues, while last year, revenues stood at JD850 million.
Hammouri said the association will be working with the government and other private sector stakeholders such as hotels, airlines, shopping centres and tourism resorts to participate in the budget for the campaign, whose cost, he said, is still undecided.
In terms of the local market, Hammouri said around 240,000 Jordanian patients seek treatment at private hospitals annually.
He said if the campaign succeeds in attracting patients from the targeted markets, it could create 1,500 new jobs and could also attract new investments in the medical sector.
There are 61 private hospitals in the Kingdom with around 4,600 beds, and they employ 50 per cent of workers in the health sector, according to PHA figures.
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