While the profile of a typical tourist spends more or less a predictable amount of money in the industry, the average medical tourist spends far more due to the need for medicines, medical equipment, services of medical experts, aside from the usual board and lodging requirements— thus making medical tourism a lucrative venture for the Philippines to explore further.
More than the financial benefits, the Philippines also possesses the ideal qualities for a fitting medical destination by way of its large pool of qualified medical teams, many of which were trained in the US and other countries.
What’s more, around half of all foreign nurses in the US are Filipino due to their natural caring nature, their patience, and English speaking skills that have endeared themselves to their foreign patients.
This was revealed by Dr. Cynthia Lazo, director and head of the Department of Tourism’s Medical Travel and Wellness Tourism Marketing Development Group, in her talk dubbed “Competitive Edge in Medical Tourism” held at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino.
“We have world-class medical expertise and global technologies that have made us a value for money venue. We are much more affordable than hospitals based in the US and Europe,” she stated in a conference on Philippine Retirement, Medical and Wellness Tourism organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce-Cebu chapter.
To prove this point, she cited the fact that Philippine medical packages have remained unchanged since 2013 in its bid to remain competitive vis-à-vis her Asean neighbors.
She also pointed out to the overall country environment in terms of its tropical climate, among other factors, and tourism attractiveness due to its numerous white sand beach resort facilities, natural attractions, dive sites, and heritage attractions.
Among the more feasible and relevant medical products/services in the field, Dr. Lazo enumerated executive check-ups, cardiology, minimally invasive surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, and aesthetic/cosmetics/dental services.
Key markets include members of the Filipino diaspora (OFWs, migrant workers), medical travel services (Guam, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea), health and wellness tourism (with China, Korea, and Japan), expats and retirees, and domestic medical travelers and tourists.
Future directions include consultation meetings with stakeholders for different market niches, development of wellness packages, creation and analysis of international pathway to address customer care continuum, and strategic conversations with Investment Promotion Agencies and insurance providers.
By RICHARD RAMOS