A Thai hospital was evacuated Friday, reports Denis D. Gray of the AP, further demonstrating the effects of the country’s discord on the medical tourism industry. The protesters suspected that security forces were taking refuge in the hospital.
Chulalongkorn Hospital in downtown Bangkok suspended all but emergency services, as the Redshirt protesters scoured the premises looking for pro-government operatives. The protesters withdrew after not finding any police or soldiers in the compound.
This comes as yet another blow to Thailand’s booming medical tourism industry, as until now the protests had remained safely away from the medical industry. It is expected that Thailand’s medical tourism industry, and indeed tourism in general, will suffer greatly from the escalating tensions in the capital.
For now, the U.S. Department of state has advised against all “non-essential” travel to Thailand, warning citizens to stay away from the turmoil. For thousands of medical travelers from the United States and around the world are being forced to re-evaluate their plans, delay their medical procedures, or seek alternate destinations.
It remains to be seen what long-term effects the protests will have on Thailand’s medical tourism industry. With no end in sight, it seems likely that medical travelers seeking essential treatments will have to select an alternate destination for medical care.
Other popular medical tourism destinations in the world include Costa Rica, India, Singapore, and Taiwan.