South Korea saw its surplus in its health tourism account top $100 million last year, largely thanks to increased spending by overseas travelers seeking healthcare and medical services in the country, data showed on Wednesday.
According to the data compiled by the Bank of Korea, the country’s income from medical tourism reached $187 million in the first 11 months of last year, up 35.3 percent from $138 million a year earlier, marking the biggest tally since the central bank began to keep related data in 2006.
The income outpaced local residents’ overseas spending on medical travel, which amounted to $86.4 million during the cited period, down 11.2 percent from a year earlier.
Consequently, the country logged a surplus of some $101 million in health tourism in the January-November period, compared with a surplus of $41 million a year earlier.
“More foreign travelers are presumed to have visited here to enjoy high quality medical services,” said an official at the BOK.
South Korea’s medical travel income came in at $59 million in 2006 but has increased steadily on the back of the advancement of medical technology and regional governments’ efforts to attract overseas patients.
The income gained steadily from $69.8 million in 2007 to $89.5 million in 2010. The comparable figures for 2011 and 2012 were $131 million and $149 million.
South Korean residents’ overseas expenditures on health-related services reached a peak in 2007 at $137 million and then fell to $96 million in 2009 before rebounding to $109 million in 2010.
They spent $78.5 million and $105 million, respectively, in 2011 and 2012. The country logged its first surplus in medical tourism in 2011 at $52.2 million. In 2012, the surplus fell to $43.8 million. (Yonhap News)