Surf Taiwan News, Browse the World »
Health liaison centers hoped to boost medical tourism
Central News Agency
2013-12-28 08:36 PM
Taipei, Dec. 28 (CNA) Eyeing the increasing number of visiting foreign tourists, Taiwan has launched five "health liaison centers," including four at airports, with the aim of boosting medical tourism. The "International Health Liaison Centers," located at Taipei (Songshan) International Airport, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taichung International Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport, with an additional one in Taoyuan County, will provide health consultations and enhance Taiwan's medical care image, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. "The launch of the health liaison centers marks a historic moment and we would like to let more people enjoy our services," President Ma Ying-jeou said at an unveiling ceremony at Taipei Airport. "Good quality, inexpensive prices and kind services are the advantages and strengths of Taiwan's medical care system," he added. With the number of foreign visitors reaching nearly eight million this year, Taiwan has great potential for developing medical tourism, Ma said. Taiwan has seen a growing number of foreign visitors getting medical treatment or health checkups here. The number hit 170,000 last year, and will likely reach 200,000 by the end of 2013, the president said. Although the output of Taiwan's medical treatment industry is likely to total NT$13 billion (US$433.47 million) this year, "there's still room for improvement," Ma said, adding that the growing tourism sector can also boost business. The Tourism Bureau is making a final push to achieve its goal of recording 8 million overseas visitors to Taiwan by the end of this year, up from some 7.31 million in 2012. The establishment of such health centers is part of a free economic pilot zone project, which opens free trade districts at harbors and international airports to foreign investment (including those from China), Ma said. Aiming to join regional economic blocs such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the government "will continue doing the right things, allowing Taiwan to become a `free economic island' step by step," the president said. The ministry said it has selected 45 qualified local medical institutes to provide quality services to meet the needs of foreign visitors, and the five centers will give advice to help match visitors with the most suitable medical institutes. A total of 25 staff speaking Mandarin and English will work at the liaison centers in accordance with flight timetables, seven days a week, to help travelers, according to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), which is helping to execute the project. In addition to participating in shows and fairs worldwide to promote Taiwan's medical care industry, the country's main trade promotion body will also provide guidance and introduction to Taiwan's services at its 60 offices around the world, said TAITRA Chairman Wang Chih-kang. He added that Taiwan's quality treatment will also be widely promoted via word-of-mouth. Local hospitals also held an optimistic view of the government's efforts, saying that it is the first step the country has taken to build a brand image for its medical services on the international stage. "We're cautiously optimistic and look forward to great results," Alex Hung, president of Shin Kong Medical Club, told reporters on the sidelines of the ceremony. Once Taiwan's brand image is built, Hung said, "there will be more room for us to make more profits." Prices for cosmetic surgery, for example, could be raised by 20 percent to 30 percent, he added. However, Hung also said that the health liaison centers are not enough and he urged the government to run advertisements in in-flight magazines and promotional banners at local and foreign airports. (By James Lee)
HOME |  WORLD |  Politics |  Business |  Sports |  Lifestyle |  TAIWAN |  Technology |  Health |  SUPPLEMENT |  Society |  OPINION
  • Taiwan News  ©  2014 All Rights Reserved.