Title: An analysis of the social media practices for sustainable medical tourism destination marketing

Authors: Surej P. John

Addresses: Department of Marketing, Waikato Management School, The University of Waikato, 4th Floor, Post Bag: 3105, Hamilton 3216, New Zealand

Abstract: Despite the numerous studies investigating the wide adoption of social media by tourists and tourism providers, literature focusing on the analysis of social media strategies in the context of medical tourism is still limited. This research investigated the usage of social media for the marketing and promotion of four medical tourism destinations in Asia. Contents of corporate websites and social media platforms used by 70 international medical care providers in the region were examined. Findings suggest that most of the medical tourism providers are not fully utilising the potential of social media for tourism marketing. Medical tourism marketers should initiate more interactive forms of communication and promotion through social media and other online platforms. Online visitor's comments, reviews, and queries must be monitored, and adequate responses have to be posted promptly to generate a positive destination image among medical tourists, residents, travel and tourism operators and other stakeholders to ensure sustainable growth in this sector. The study contributes to both theory and practice by examining the utilisation of social media in medical tourism, a rapidly growing segment of the tourism and hospitality industry.

Keywords: medical tourism; content analysis; sustainability; social media; destination marketing; place image.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTP.2017.086965

International Journal of Tourism Policy, 2017 Vol.7 No.3, pp.222 - 249

Received: 29 Feb 2016
Accepted: 12 Oct 2016

Published online: 22 Sep 2017 *

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