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Medical tourism generates over JD1 billion in 2014 — PHA

By Khetam Malkawi - Jan 13,2015 - Last updated at Jan 13,2015

AMMAN — A total of 250,000 patients from abroad came to Jordan for treatment in 2014, a number that is almost similar to the year before, according to the Private Hospitals Association (PHA).

Although the figures are not final as further studies are being conducted, PHA President Fawzi Hammouri said each patient was escorted by two people, with the total number of escorts standing at around half-a-million.

In an interview with The Jordan Times, Hammouri said medical tourism generated more than JD1 billion last year. These revenues include patients’ expenditure on medical procedures, accommodations, transportation and other expenses.

However, several challenges still face the sector and affect the Kingdom’s competitiveness as a regional medical hub, the PHA president added.

Topping these challenges, he explained, is the increase in operating expenses due to the hike in electricity tariffs, which have doubled over the past four years, from 113 fils per kilowatt hour in 2011 to 272 fils per kilowatt hour now.

In addition, hospitals and medical centres were forced to increase staff wages to counter the brain drain, as the majority of medics are offered better salaries in Gulf countries.

Another reason for the increase in operating expenses is the increase in social security subscriptions, from 16.5 per cent of the salary in 2010 to 20.25 per cent in 2015.

The employer covers 13.25 per cent of the subscription, while the remaining 7 per cent is paid by the subscribed employee.

In addition, the new Income Tax Law will have a major impact on the medical tourism sector as the tax imposed on hospitals has increased from 14 per cent to 20 per cent, Hammouri said.

Another concern is related to visa requirements for certain nationalities, he added, noting that patients from Iraq and its semi-autonomous Kurdistan region have changed their medical destination to countries other than Jordan due to visa requirements.

However, these challenges will not stop sector representatives from intensifying their efforts to keep promoting the country as a medical tourism destination, according to Hammouri.

He said the association will host a conference in May this year to examine the future of medical tourism in the Kingdom.

Participants from 25 countries are and expected to attend the conference, which also seeks to promote medical skills in Jordan.

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