The once-thriving medical tourism industry received a hard blow due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and is now struggling to recover.

In a poll Verdict has conducted to assess the time the medical tourism industry will take to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, a majority 52% opined that the industry will take one to three years to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.

Medical tourism industry will take up to three years to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels

While 26% of the respondents opined that the industry would take one to two years to recover, another 26% voted that it would take two to three years.

According to 13% of the respondents, medical tourism will take three to four years to bounce back to the pre-pandemic levels, while 12% of the respondents opined that it would take less than one year.

Further, 8% of the respondents voted that the industry would take four to five years to bounce back, while 5% opined that it will take five to six years.

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The remaining 10% of the respondents voted that the medical tourism industry will take more than six years to bounce back to the pre-pandemic levels.

The analysis is based on 441 responses received from the readers of Pharmaceutical Technology, a Verdict network site, between 22 January and 01 March.

Impact of Covid-19 on the medical tourism industry

The medical tourism industry was booming until the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the entire travel and tourism industry. The industry, which was worth $639bn in 2017, grew by 6.5% from 2015, according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). Approximately 830 million wellness and medical trips were made in 2017, of which 209 million were made to Asia accounting for $100bn.

Asia Pacific accounted for 21.4% of the global wellness and medical tourism expenditure and 31% of all wellness tourism trips in 2017. China, Japan, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are some of the major destinations for wellness and medical tourism. Health and wellness tourism trips to Asia were forecast to reach 128.3 million by 2022, according to GlobalData, before the pandemic struck.

Destinations that implement established strategies to address the challenges posed by the pandemic will be able recover more quickly, adds GWI. Sri Lanka and Thailand, for example, implemented an efficient strategy to flatten the COVID-19 curve and reopen their economies more quickly than others.