GEORGE TOWN, Jan 2 — Penang Centre of Medical Tourism (P.MED), an initiative of the Penang state government, has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Citilink Airlines operator PT Citilink Indonesia to bolster medical tourist arrivals from Indonesia to the state.
P.MED chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said Indonesia has always been a major source market for Penang’s medical tourism given its language and cultural similarities with Malaysia.
Yeoh, who is also the state executive councillor for tourism and the creative economy, said the total revenue for Penang’s medical tourism has increased exponentially from RM66 million in 2021 to RM285 million in 2022 after the reopening of the country’s international borders.
“In the first 11 months of 2022, Penang welcomed 144,975 international medical arrivals, of which Indonesia contributed 54 per cent, followed closely by Bangladesh and India.
“To facilitate travel (from) Indonesia, we are now signing this MoU between P.MED and Citilink Airlines to bring more medical tourists to Penang,” he said during the P.MED video launch and MoU signing event with PT Citilink Indonesia, witnessed by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow here today.
Also present were Indonesia’s consul-general in Penang Bambang Suharto, Thai consul-general in Penang Khun Raschada Jiwalai, as well as the airline’s chief commercial and cargo officer Ichwan F. Argus and vice president of sales and distribution Emir Bustamam.
Meanwhile, in his speech, Chow said that while the numbers achieved this year have yet to surpass that of the pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, the resurgence of medical tourists to Penang has been very encouraging.
“We have attained nearly 50 per cent of what we used to earn in 2019 (and) this is very good for our economy.
“It is also something that we are very proud of because it shows that Penang has survived as a tourism destination, and we continue to attract visitors because we have so much to offer,” he said.
Chow said that according to the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council, from 2015 to 2019 the industry recorded a cumulative average growth rate of 17 per cent.
“In 2019, Penang received nearly 480,000 medical tourists, generating RM730 million in revenue, and this amounted to nearly 50 per cent of the total (medical tourism) revenue for Malaysia,” he added.
Established in 2015, the P.MED initiative is now home to 13 member hospitals and 16 associate members spread over various strategic locations throughout Penang to provide excellent healthcare encompassing a wide range of specialist medical services. — Bernama