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Slow takeoff for local med tourism

AMID the opening of new hospitals in Cebu equipped with advanced medical technologies, the Cebu Health and Wellness Council (CHWC) feels the province has not fully taken advantage of the growing global medical tourism market.


“We are still far from the likes of Bangkok, and Singapore,” said CHWC chairman engineer Oscar Tuason at the sidelines of the groundbreaking of Mactan Doctors medical arts building last week. “We tried to parallel our services with them, but the difference is that we could not get support from our own local government.”


Tuason said they are branding the Philippines as a competitive alternative medical destination in Asia. However, factors like high hotel rates, limited direct access and lack of infrastructure have prevented the industry from fully taking off.


Competitors


“Singapore and Thailand really offer lower hotel rates (for medical tourists),” said Tuason, adding that medical tourists are not the priority markets of the local hospitality industry.


“Other than that, we lack direct access from other countries,” he added.


Tuason explained that while leisure tourists don’t mind going through several connections before reaching Cebu or the Philippines, medical patients prefer to be on non- stop flights.


Unfortunately, Tuason said, Cebu has no direct access yet to markets like Europe and the United States.


Executive checkups, minimally invasive surgeries, and eye services are among the popular medical services that foreign patients avail themselves of in Cebu.


CHWC is a private sector-led association of industry stakeholders that sets the directions in developing and promoting the health and wellness industry in Cebu. It was established some seven years ago.


Cebu Doctors University Hospital, Chong Hua Hospital and Perpetual Succour Hospital are the major partner hospitals of CHWC.


Tuason said while these hospitals market their own to lure more medical tourists, CHWC is doing active promotions via social media.


He believes Cebu can successfully take off as a medical tourism destination because it has qualified and caring medical professionals who attend to every patient’s need.


“We just have to address these concerns because we really are known for our hospitality and tender loving care,” said Tuason.

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