The government is studying opportunities in niche services that will allow the Philippines to establish its footprint in the medical tourism industry, according to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.
Dental, cancer care and retirement services are among the sectors with high demand, he said.
Jimenez said the Philippines must be careful in choosing which sectors it would be focusing on. He said the country should ensure that the best facilities would be put in place in the chosen sectors and that the best people would be running them.
“Medical tourism is an area where one develops a reputation quickly. It’s something we cannot go wrong. We have to get it right the first time,” Jimenez said.
Former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez Tan said investments in world-class medical and healthcare facilities would not only help foreign tourists but would also improve Filipinos’ access to medical facilities.
Samie Lim of the Philippine Franchise Association, who is also pushing medical tourism in the Philippines, said this could help attract tourists seeking affordable but quality medical treatment, who would bring their families with them for long holidays. That means more dollars per tourist visit for the country.
In 2006, the country came up with a Medical Tourism Program. Lim said developments might not have been as quick as initially expected but the country had been succeeding in building a momentum in this area, along with the overall tourism program.
A few years ago, the country was relaunched as a medical tourism destination under the brand “Philippines: The Heart of Asia.”