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Modern China

Hainan to become a global medical tourism hotspot

By Xinzhu Xiao

March 13

A super hospital in Bo’ao Lecheng, China’s first pilot zone for global medical tourism on Hainan Province, is scheduled to open in April this year. As one of the most significant constructions of the pilot zone, it will put Hainan on the map as a global medical tourism hotspot.

A super hospital in Bo’ao Lecheng, China’s first pilot zone for global medical tourism on Hainan Province, is scheduled to open in April this year. As one of the most significant constructions of the pilot zone, it will put Hainan on the map as a global medical tourism hotspot.

Medical tourism hotspot

In 2013, the provincial government of Hainan earmarked more than 1,600 acres of farm land along a river flowing to the eastern coast in Bo’ao City for a medical tourism hub. Local officials said businesses had already committed to spending $3.3 billion for 27 projects ranging from hospitals to plastic surgery clinics, with dozens more awaiting approval. The zone’s first batch of hospitals are opening to the public in 2017, the effective beginning of this medical experiment.

The mission of the pilot zone is mainly to keep medical consumption within the country and to take a share of the travel medical market. Now this new super hospital will take full advantage of the preferential policies granted by the local government in 2013, under which foreign companies are able to open up medical organizations in the zone and foreign medicines will enjoy special import tariffs.

Seven departments at the hospital, located 6 km away from the site of the Boao Forum for Asia, will be opened to the public in the first phase, with top doctors on duty and some of the most advanced facilities from across the world.

Booming TCM treatment

Rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has recently gained popularity in a world dominated by modern Western medicine. More and more people are coming to China for TCM treatment or therapy. The TCM boom is strongly felt in Sanya City.

According to the head of Sanya Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Wang Tiansong, the hospital has received more than 40,000 foreign customers since it introduced its “TCM tour” in 2002, most of whom were from Russia and Central Asian countries.

Hainan Tourism Development Commission statistics show that during the past seven years, Hainan received a total of about 800,000 Russian tourists, with 80% of them having tried some form of TCM treatment during their stay, either to treat particular ailments or simply for disease prevention.

However, the booming TCM therapy in Hainan also brings some problems: unregulated private clinics, exaggerated treatment effects, and a shortage of qualified TCM practitioners are all issues facing the medical tourism market of Hainan.

To fight those issues, Hainan urgently needs a set of regulations that help standardize and guide the innovative, healthy and sustainable growth of TCM.

Light medical tourism products

Hainan also puts emphasis on developing light medical tourism products that highlight Hainan’s natural resources, such as hot spring therapy. There are a total of 34 hot springs dotted across Hainan. Doctors of TCM have mentioned their healing benefits and therapeutic effects on various diseases, such as skin diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and anemia. Many five-star hotel brands have set up hot spring tourist destinations in Hainan. Hilton, for example, have opened a branch in Baoting Li and Miao Autonomous County, one of the most famous hot spring tourist destinations in Hainan.

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