"Thailand is losing momentum and its position. They don't appreciate how much other countries are moving up," said Julie W. Munro, CEO of InterMed Global, a leading website that caters to tourists looking to undergo medical procedures abroad.
For April-May of 2010, many local hospitals reported a drastic drop in the number of foreign patients traveling to Thailand for treatment.
Munro said the country's international health service industry was "very badly hurt" following the violent protests in the country's capital Bangkok earlier this year. "This came on top of the damage done by the global economic crisis and related decline in air travel," she added.
Richard RothHaas of Medical-Tourism-In-Thailand.com, shares her view.
"People aren't going to come here if they can't go home," he said, noting that many of the protests that rocked the city were in close proximity to prestigious hospitals.
The rising price of airfares and hotel rates also means that many medical procedures can now be carried out in the United States at a comparable cost, Munro said.
The cost of breast augmentation in Thailand at a reputable hospital, for example, averages 120,000 baht ($3900), excluding travel and accommodation expenses. A similar procedure in the United States would cost $3,331, according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
But not everyone agrees that Thailand's medical tourism, which accounts for $2 billion of Thailand's overall $17 billion tourism sector, is falling behind.