DOT eyes Philippine brand for wellness
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is eyeing to create a Philippine wellness brand, in line with efforts to expand the country’s tourism offerings.
In an interview, Tourism Assistant Secretary Roberto Alabado III told The STAR that the department is looking to first identify the distinct characteristic of the Philippine brand of wellness.
“First, we need to identify what the Philippine brand of wellness really is and later let’s advocate it,”Alabado said.
While the country has yet to come up with its own brand of wellness, Alabado said the DOT is already helping some Philippine medical institutions promote their medical tourism offerings.
“We have at least 15 hospitals and clinics that are internationally accredited. We’re helping them promote their clinics so that the Philippines can also be known in medical tourism,” Alabado said.
Alabado earlier said the Philippines is already a provider of medical services to some countries in the Pacific, noting the country’s cost-effective offerings.
“Their citizens come to the Philippines for medical purposes,” Alabado said.
“We have some of the most cost-effective medical checkups. Then we have dental tourism which is also fast growing. We have people coming from Australia just for their dental works,” he added.
Alabado also identified balikbayans from the US and Canada as another potential market for the country’s medical tourism offerings.
Based on a report from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the Philippines ranks 24th among the top countries in inbound medical tourism spending, with spending totaling to $69 million in 2017.
The report emphasized that medical tourism has become an important niche market over recent years, supported by various government policies and private sector initiatives across the world.
“Countries have recognized the opportunities that medical tourism brings as a catalyst for social and economic development and its potential to support quality education, highly skilled workers, favorable visa policies, promotion of a country’s attractiveness, and well-developed infrastructure within a country,” the WTTC said.
“As more governments recognize these benefits and develop strategies and policies for this sub-sector, WTTC expects that with the right policies, support and regulation, medical tourism can continue to grow across developed and emerging economies,” it added.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. earlier identified dental procedures, along with executive checkups, as among the medical treatments the Philippines has to offer that could attract more health and wellness tourists into the country.
“In the case of medical tourism, we’ve identified the priority treatments which we feel the Philippines can become competitive in, taking into consideration availability of our medical professionals and frontliners, price competitiveness, etc,” Bengzon said.
Among the priority treatments include executive checkup, opthalmology, aesthetics and dental, cardiology and minimally invasive surgery.
Bengzon said medical tourism falls under health and wellness tourism, one of the 10 products identified under the National Tourism Development Plan 2016 to 2022.
In line with the development of the medical tourism sector, Bengzon said the DOT continues to talk to hospitals providing the priority treatments.
“Some of them are already very aggressive in promoting abroad,” Bengzon said.
He said that some hospitals participate in the DOT’s roadshows abroad.