Philippines seen as 'attractive' medical tourism destination

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Philippines seen as 'attractive' medical tourism destination
This February 2021 photo shows tourists in Boracay.
Malay Municipal Tourism Office / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — With many untapped potentials in the health and industry, the Department of Tourism said it sees the Philippines as an "attractive medical tourism destination."

“With world-class hospitals and facilities, skilled doctors and nurses, and the Filipino brand of hospitality, the Philippines is poised to become an attractive destination for medical tourism," Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Juergen Steinmetz, a delegate at the recent World Travel and Tourism Council Summit, shared the same sentiment that the Philippines has the potential to become a top medical tourism destination.

He shared that he underwent medical treatment at the Makati Medical Center for his left leg which was diagnosed to be inflicted by a flesh-eating bacteria.

"It's a secret to be revealed and in the making to come out and go viral. The Philippines will become the number one destination for medical tourism," Steinmetz said in his recent article published by eturbonews.com.

"All the ingredients are here. Excellent world-class doctors and facilities, nurses that keep the standard for high-quality care around the world, and a beautiful country, wonderful beaches, good food, and exciting cities," he added.

Steinmetz also cited the cheaper medical costs in the Philippines compared to other countries.

The tourism chief said the agency has plans to bolster the country’s medical tourism with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the importance of medical travel and wellness tourism.

DOT also said they seek to increase public awareness of medical tourism in the global market.

"Currently, we have been implementing measures that will further develop the country as a medical tourism destination in a calibrated approach, including the development of an internal ecosystem and network of facilities in the country to accommodate concerns and issues surrounding this tourism product," Puyat said.  

Aside from these, the DOT likewise developed “gold standard in approaching health and safety for meetings, incentives conferences and exhibitions (MICE) events” and also institutionalized health and safety in tourism activities.

Puyat cited that the DOT partnered with the Department of Health (DOH) and Makati Medical Center to attend to the medical needs of tourists.

Last February, the government launched the Resbakuna sa Botika Program in Boracay, in partnership with one of the country’s leading drug stores, Watsons. Through this partnership, fully vaccinated local and tourists may be accommodated to get their booster shots against COVID-19.

Puyat said the coordination with national government agencies and local government units has led to 98% vaccination rate of tourism workers.

In 2020, the DOT also partnered with the Makati Medical Center Foundation, MVP Group of Campanies’ Tulong Kapatid or its social responsibility consortium “to improve Boracay Island’s  health and communications portfolio.”

They eyed implementing a Pandemic Preparedness Program “to help bring back tourism confidence in Boracay from a health security perspective.”

Meanwhile, the DOT recently appointed a director for medical, health and wellness tourism, Dr. Paulo Benito Tugbang, a registered medical doctor and board top-notcher nurse and midwife.

Tugbang previously led the Medical Travel and Wellness Tourism Program of the DOH and served with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Secretariat as the technical lead.

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