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Hainan sees potential in medical tourism sector

By Liu Xiaoli and Huang Yiming in Haikou ( Updated: 2016-07-01 14:42

Hainan aims to become a world-class medical tourism destination within five years by developing the Boao Lecheng international medical tourism pilot zone, according to a provincial official.

Lu Junhua, the deputy governor of Hainan province, made his remarks on Wednesday at the 2016 World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress in Boao, Qionghai.

The three-day congress has gathered more than 300 medical tourism industry executives and investors from all around the world.

Hainan Boao Lecheng international medical tourism pilot zone, the first of its kind in the country, was approved by the State Council in 2013. It enjoys nine preferential polices, including special permission for medical talent, technology, devices and drugs, and an allowance for entrance of foreign capital and international communications.

The pilot zone also has permission to carry out leading-edge medical technology research, such as stem cell clinical research.

Since being established, about 20 projects with a total investment of 19.8 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) have been set up in the pilot zone, with another 15 projects approved.

Nine investment projects, with a total contract value of 8.4 billion yuan ($1.2 billion), were agreed at the congress in Boao, and five of them relate to the pilot zone.

Hainan, with its subtropical climate and coastal scenery, has many advantages that will help with the development of its medical tourism industry, said Jonathan Edelheit, CEO of the Medical Tourism Association.

However, he cautioned that “more international cooperation is still needed, especially in doctor and nurse’s training”.

Han Yingwei, the director of Hainan’s Health and Family Planning Commission, also cautioned that a lack of medical talent and supporting infrastructure may hamper the pilot zone’s development.

However Lu, the deputy governor, said Hainan would overcome these challenges to meet its goal.

Tourism on the island has seen rapid growth since its designation as an international tourism destination by the State Council in 2009. Last year, about 50 million tourists visited Hainan.

Its mild winters are especially attractive to elderly visitors and the annual Boao Forum for Asia, which is hosted on the island, has proved another draw.

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