Indonesia stands a good chance of becoming an international health destination because of its abundant natural beauty, which is a potentially huge draw for tourists also looking for low-cost health and medical care, a minister said on Thursday.
“Indonesia’s potential to become a health tourism destination is big because Indonesia has many attractive places,” said Mari Elka Pangestu, the minister of tourism and creative economy.
Mari cited figures putting the global health tourism market at around $100 billion annually.
“By comparison, our neighboring country, Thailand, is able to clinch around $3 billion [per year],” Mari said.
Mari cited Indonesia’s geographical proximity to many wealthy countries, such as Australia and China. She added that from a cultural standpoint, the archipelago also abounds with local and traditional wisdom on healing all measure of ailments.
“Indonesia has been named as the best spa destination in the world,” Mari said.
Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi voiced her agreement with Mari’s assessment of Indonesia’s medical tourism potential.
“We will start with action,” Nafsiah said. “We’ll immediately set up working groups and an action plan.”
She said that the government had identified four hot spots in which to begin developing health tourism: Bali, Jakarta, Makassar and Manado.
“The four areas were chosen not only because the health facilities there are already advanced but also because there are many things to see there,” she said.
Nafsiah said that aside from spas, Indonesia also has potential in the medical sector. The country boasts many specialist doctors with good international reputations, but many people are not aware of that due to a lack of promotion.
Mari said that to lure patients from overseas, the government will have to collaborate with travel agents and increase cooperation between hospitals, clinics and spas.
While waiting for more Indonesian hospitals to get international accreditation from the Joint Committee International Accreditation, the government can build a level of cooperation with insurance companies, she added.
Nafsiah said that attitudes also need to change so that those Indonesians seeking medical treatment will make the effort to find that treatment at home.
“I often wondered why Indonesian people like to get check-ups in Singapore,” Nafsiah said. “What is it that we don’t have?
“It turns out the answer is because of the service and the mental attitude. We don’t have any pride to serve.”
Nafsiah said that in Singapore, doctors were willing to spend time to listen to patients’ complaints and discuss the various medical procedures that were available.