Korea medical tourism promoted in ShanghaiKorea will open a new center in Shanghai later this year to promote medical tourism, in line with efforts to attract more Chinese medical tourists, the health ministry said Tuesday.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the center will open in September and will serve as a place for small and medium-sized medical institutions to promote their services and share information.
The move comes as the number of Chinese medical tourists to Korea has declined, mainly due to a diplomatic row with China over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in Korea.
According to data compiled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of foreigners arriving in Korea for medical purpose declined 12 percent on-year to 321,574 in 2017.
It was the first time that foreign patients shrank since Korea began accepting tourists specifically for medical purposes.
The number of Chinese tourists - which accounts for over 30 percent of the total number - arriving for medical purposes shrank 22 percent on-year to 99,837 last year.
Foriegn patients have been rising on an annualized average of over 11 percent since 2009, by comparison.
The bilateral rift over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in Korea has lowered the number of Chinese group tours to the country since 2017.
In recent months, China has partially lifted the ban with Wuhan becoming one of the first Chinese cities to allow sales of tour packages to Korea.