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A cross-cultural study of perceptions of medical tourism among Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists in Korea


  • Yu, Ji Yun
  • Ko, Tae Gyou


The purpose of this study is to observe factors related to perceptions of and possible participation in medical tourism by Chinese, Japanese, and Korean visitors to Jeju Island in Korea. It aims to identify cultural differences among them, and how those differences affect their pursuit of medical tourism in the future. The research results illustrate that significant differences exist in how Chinese, Japanese and Korean visitors view factors of choice, discomfort and preferred product items. The study establishes four factor groups regarding medical tourism with exploratory factor analysis. Based on these findings, differences of participation intention and behaviors among the three groups are explained. From this, the study describes distinct characteristics of medical tourism among the three cultural groups. The differences among Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tourists with regard to the selection of destination, inconveniences, and preferred products were found to be all significant. Korean tourists placed most significance on selection factors, followed by Chinese tourists, and, lastly, the Japanese. On the other hand, inconveniences related to medical and care services, stay and cost, and information and insurance elements were most strongly associated with Japanese tourists. This may be a reflection of a possible tendency of Japanese tourists to value safety and cost effectiveness. For Chinese tourists, the importance of stay and cost was equally high as those of their Japanese counterparts, which is indicative of Chinese tourists’ cost sensitivity. Light treatments (minor surgery) were preferred by Chinese tourists, while more significant treatments (major surgery) were preferred by Japanese tourists. In terms of aesthetic and healthcare services, Chinese tourists showed the most interest, while Japanese tourists placed emphasis on rehabilitation (lifestyle-related), which may reflect the Korean Wave’s influence in certain Chinese market segments, leading to an increased demand for cosmetic or plastic surgery.

Suggested Citation

  • Yu, Ji Yun & Ko, Tae Gyou, 2012. "A cross-cultural study of perceptions of medical tourism among Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists in Korea," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 80-88.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:touman:v:33:y:2012:i:1:p:80-88
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2011.02.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lautier, Marc, 2008. "Export of health services from developing countries: The case of Tunisia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 101-110, July.
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