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Promoting Philippines as a Medical Tourism Center

by | 8 Apr, 2019 | Travel Industry Updates

The expo aims to increase medical institutions and wellness destinations in the country.

When it comes to medical tourism, the Philippines is probably in its infant stage — still growing with lots of untapped potentials and opportunities. But with the concerted efforts by the medical tourism stakeholders, the Philippines is making a huge dent into the global wellness industry, which has contributed $3.7 trillion to the world economy in 2015.

“Wellness tourism, or travel for the purpose of promoting one’s health and well-being through physical, psychological or spiritual activities, is a thriving global business. Already a trillion-dollar global industry, it continues to grow nearly as twice as fast at the world economy,” shared health advocate Cory Quirino, who is at the helm of the Health and Wellness Confex 2019, a three-day event that gathers the stakeholders of the Philippine health and wellness industry.

Following the theme “Journey to a Zestful Life,” the event aims to promote the Philippines’ health and wellness industry and put the country on the global medical tourism map. Co-presented by Conrad Manila, Organique, The Zen Institute, The Farm at San Benito, Toledo Medical Companies, Oh So Healthy, Healthway and Manulife, it will happen on 26 to 28 April 2019, at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Chlorophyll Body Wrap
Good for detoxification. Prices of the various health and wellness services offered locally are very competitive.

Although wellness travelers account for just a small percentage in the country’s total tourism revenues, the Philippines is slowly becoming a major health and wellness destination. Based on Medical Tourism Index lists, the Philippines ranks 19th in among the global destinations, 16th in the medical tourism industry, and 19th in the quality of facilities and services.

According to reports, the Philippines caters from 80,000 to 250,000 patients annually, with clients coming from East Asia, Sri Lanka, the Pacific Islands, Australia, North and South America, Europe and the UK and the Gulf States.

Quirino pointed out that the Philippines has what it takes to be a significant competitor in this lucrative market. “We have internationally-accredited hospitals and award-winning wellness resorts and spas, with highly-trained, English-speaking healthcare and wellness professionals who provide world-class services,” said Quirino.

For the past years, the Department of Tourism has been closely working with the Department of Health to create a unified Philippine Medical Tourism Program, which aims to “contribute a noticeable and quantifiable amount to the Philippine economy and improvement in the quality of life” while, at the same time, continue to increase medical institutions and wellness destinations that provide advanced medical services. This program also may help in generating job opportunities for Filipino people, while increasing tourism traffic all over the country.

Confex is a project of Health and Wellness World, which seeks to transform the Philippines into a health and wellness hub.

While many have been coming here for vacation and treatments, the tourism market has to know about the Philippines and what the country has to offer, what they can do in the country.

“In the medical tourism, the Philippines is a well-kept secret. This expo is the best way to introduce the Philippines to the world, and keep the momentum,” said Tourism Congress of the Philippines board director Orly Ballesteros.

Mary Faith Albano, Philippine Marketing Association president, agreed, saying: “We need one big push for the market. We need to create one campaign that communicates effectively the message the industry wants people to know. All the stakeholders should talk the same language. If we think the market is viable, then we should talk about it.”

While there is a market and diverse products to offer, Healthway Medical VP for sales and marketing Carmelita de Leon suggested that “we need to package it in a nice way. It needs to be accessible. Create a compelling bundle — with everything wellness on it — and then start promoting as a group, as a country.”

The Philippines enjoy a tropical climate and picturesque sites, which is good for healing and relaxation. The Filipino people are known for our warm hospitality, compassion and nurturing character. On top of that, the prices of the various health and wellness services offered locally are very competitive. Compared to the rates abroad, the Philippines offers much lower, even when the cost of travel and accommodation is included.

Tourism stakeholders should stop looking at it as a one-stop deal, but take it as a long-term campaign.

“It is not a competition between wellness and medical sectors. We need to work with doctors and medical people to make it sustainable,” said Quirino.

There are five identified segments in the medical tourism — the tourists who enjoy spa and other wellness services; the medical tourists who avail of low-acuity medical procedures; the medical travelers, the ones who specifically avail of more complex procedures; and the international patients, including overseas Filipino workers, expats, and retirees; and accompanying guests, the guests or immediate kin of travelers.

These are the segments that the Confex wants to tap. The event will showcase various health and wellness products and services that visitors can experience first-hand, as well as exclusive marked-down wellness travel packages which they can avail.

The Confex is a project of Health and Wellness World, which seeks to transform the Philippines into a health and wellness hub, with a vibrant community where everyone’s physical, mental, emotions and even spiritual well-being is a priority. This is an continuing advocacy whose end goal is to make the Philippines “A tropical haven for a fuller life.”

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