DoT pushes for medical and wellness tourism packages in RP

Published by rudy Date posted on February 21, 2010

With the pool of foreign patients and health buffs seeking quality healthcare services and spa facilities abroad, it was only a matter of time until the Philippines positioned itself as one of the premier destinations for medical and wellness tourism.

Owing to the country’s world-class physicians, modern technology, the brand of caring and compassion that’s uniquely Filipino, medical tourism in the Philippines continues to grow with the number of overseas patients rising from 60,000 in 2007 to over 100,000 in 2008.

Home to some of the best hospitals and stand alone specialty clinics in the world offering world-class expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, as well as spa retreat resorts and tour destinations, the Department of Tourism (DoT) is pushing tour operators to develop medical and wellness tourism packages in the Philippines that will cater to the growing number of foreign patients visiting the country.

“We encourage our tour operators to create packages that integrate medical and wellness services offering complete healing and revitalization for foreign patients. The demand is already there—we just have to ensure that we are ready with these medical tourism packages,” said Cynthia Carrion, DoT Undersecretary for Sports and Wellness.

In light of medical tourism’s boom, the Department of Tourism expects the Philippines to corner a total of three billion dollars from the global medical tourism industry by 2015, with 200,000 foreign patients arriving annually.

“The Philippines is well-positioned to become a leading international healthcare destination. Our country has distinct advantages compared to other countries—we have a large pool of very competent healthcare professionals with excellent English communication skills. There’s the innate hospitality and optimism of the Filipino people, as well as the country’s pleasant, tropical weather. Furthermore, the Philippines boasts of reasonably priced healthcare services and a favorable business environment,” said Dr. Joven Cuanang, President of HEAL Philippines.

Among the core healthcare services and treatments identified by the DoT to be the most in-demand among foreigners visiting the Philippines are: Executive Check-ups, Cardiovascular Care, Cancer Care and Stem Cell Therapy, Joint Replacement Surgery, Multi-Disciplinary Weight Management Care, Eye Care and Sight Restoration, Dental Care, Aesthetic and Dermatological Surgery, Spa Wellness Treatments, and Long-Term Care/Retirement.

“Our medical tourism packages from tour operators can include any of these services. After their treatment, foreign patients can complete the healing and wellness process by enjoying different sights and attractions in the Philippines,” said Carrion.

At the same time, the DoT urges healthcare providers to constantly upgrade their facilities to be at par with world-class standards. This is part of the roadmap the department has developed for medical tourism, the public and private sectors forging partnerships towards the common goal of capturing global markets and offering the best in health and wellness.

As proof of the Philippines proactive promotion of medical tourism, the country will be hosting the International Summit on Medical Travel, Wellness and Retirement (IMWell Summit) on October 12-15 at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

The four-day event features a full agenda that includes plenary sessions on Industry Perspectives, Opportunities and Risks; Regional Presentation of Best Practices; Global Opportunities in the Retirement Industry; Marketing and Branding for Global Markets; Quality Management and the Continuity of Care; and the Future of Medical Tourism and Healthcare Travel Industry. –JACKY LYNNE A. OIGA, Manila Bulletin

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