Bangkok, February 20, 2012 — The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has joined forces with the Royal Thai Embassy in Qatar to invite a group of tour operators and media from Qatar to survey medical tourism facilities in Thailand.

The group includes representatives from the Gulf country’s leading travel agencies Darwish Travel, Mannai Air Travel, Regency Travel and Tours, and ITL World Travel, and two media Gulf Times English newspaper and Arrayah Arabic newspaper. They will be in Thailand between 19-24 February 2012.

On 20 February 2012, the group was welcomed by TAT Deputy Governor, Mrs Juthaporn Rerngronasa and attended a special briefing on “Medical Tourism in Thailand” by Dr Med Prapa Wongphaet, Chairman of the Committee on Health Service Business, and on “Spa and Wellness in Thailand” by Mr Apichai Jearadisak, Advisor to the Federation of Thai Spa. They also had a chance to meet with representatives of the TAT, Thai Spa Association and Thai Private Hospital Association.

On 21 February, they will visit Bangkok Hospital, Bumrungrad Hospital and S Medical Spa. Over the following three days, they will tour various popular spots of Bangkok and also take a river cruise to Ayutthaya province, thus allowing them to see the post-flood recovery work in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the richest countries in the world, Qatar was the source of 20,280 visitors (by nationality) for Thailand in 2011, up from 16,017 in 2010. Citizens of Qatar can obtain visa-free entry into Thailand. As of February 2012, there are 21 direct scheduled flights per week between Thailand and Qatar being operated by Qatar Airways.

The Middle East in general and GCC countries in particular, are very important sources of visitor arrivals for Thailand. Both local citizens and expatriates in these countries have high purchasing power, long average length of stay and enjoy the monsoon season. Thailand also has a good image in the Gulf countries for its good quality of products, excellent service standards and the warm traditional hospitality of the Thai people.

Thailand boasts some of the world’s best health and wellness centres offering high standards of both preventive and curative treatment. A pioneer in the field of medical tourism in Asia, Thailand receives more than a million foreign patients annually seeking treatment at 956 public and 309 private hospitals,16 of which are JCI accredited (as of 2011), with another 17 awaiting accreditation.