Wed, Nov 28, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Bureau focuses on Chinese, Japanese medical tourists

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Tourism Bureau said yesterday it will target Chinese and Japanese tourists as the first potential customers for the nation's medical tourism industry.

Wayne Liu (劉喜臨), director of the bureau's international affairs division, said that some travel agencies on the west coast of the US have already begun to arrange package tours for overseas Chinese, offering comprehensive physical examination and travel for a few days in Taiwan before they return.

Given that the majority of tourists are from Japan, the bureau sees it as an opportunity to promote medical tourism among Japanese visitors, he said.

Liu made the comments at a seminar on medical tourism yesterday, hosted by the Tourism Bureau. It was attended by representatives from hospitals, medical associations and the travel industry.

Wu Ming-yen (吳明彥), secretary general of the Taiwan Nongovernmental Hospitals and Clinics Association, said that Taiwan is less competitive than other Asian countries in providing physical examinations and plastic surgery, as medical costs are sometimes less expensive in other Asian countries.

He said, however, that the nation does have an advantage in offering quality and relatively inexpensive operations such as live organ transplants.

Wu also said that Taiwan has been recognized by the international community as one of the ideal places for medical tourism. Patients Beyond Borders, a medical tourism guidebook, is scheduled to include Taiwan in next year's edition, he said.

Wu added that medical tourism could potentially generate four to six times the revenue of regular tourism. He also said Taiwan's humanitarian medical aid has helped establish its solid medical reputation.

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