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Medical, wellness sectors bright spots for tourism
“Several tourism activities are expected to come back ahead of others among which is medical and wellness tourism,” Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said in a recent webinar.
DOT/Released

Medical, wellness sectors bright spots for tourism

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - December 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s medical and wellness tourism sector may recover faster due to the emphasis on health brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

“Several tourism activities are expected to come back ahead of others among which is medical and wellness tourism,” Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said in a recent webinar.

“The DOT has long identified medical and wellness tourism as a promising sector to the country’s tourism industry that can contribute significantly not only to tourist traffic, but more importantly as an economic driver that will help generate employment and livelihood,”he said.

Bengzon said the country’s medical and wellness products that highlight world class medical facilities, quality services and treatments have been gaining traction among domestic and foreign markets in recent years.

“And these products have gradually positioned the Philippines as the next important player in the regional and eventually the global medical and wellness community,” Bengzon said.

However, Bengzon said the pandemic has created a challenge within the industry on how to operate medical and wellness facilities in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the industry is also challenged on how to cater to its foreign markets, emphasizing the great number of cancellations from foreign clients due to the pandemic.

“But despite all these hurdles, the medical and wellness tourism industry stakeholders  find a silver lining in the way people perceive health and wellness as a priority in the new normal,”Bengzon said.

“It builds a strong sense of hope for the industry to finally bounce back soon while adhering to the health and safety protocols set for the industry. Currently, hospitals and wellness centers have been getting inquiries from abroad especially for physical surgery services and complete wellness journey programs,”Bengzon said.

He said there has been growing interest from the domestic market to go out and indulge in wellness getaways as destinations slowly open up to welcome domestic travelers.

Based on an earlier report from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the Philippines ranks 24th among the top countries in inbound medical tourism spending, with spending totaling to $69 million in 2017.

The report emphasized that medical tourism has become an important niche market over recent years, supported by various government policies and private sector initiatives across the world.

“Countries have recognized the opportunities that medical tourism brings as a catalyst for social and economic development and its potential to support quality education, highly skilled workers, favorable visa policies, promotion of a country’s attractiveness, and well-developed infrastructure within a country,” the WTTC said.

Medical tourism falls under health and wellness tourism, one of the 10 products identified under the National Tourism Development Plan 2016 to 2022.

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