Council: Cebu ‘the place’ for light medical treatmentsBy Aileen Garcia-Yap
Cebu Daily News
The Cebu Health and Wellness Council (CHWC ) will start to aggressively market and promote next year Cebu as a destination for light medical treatments, which will be offered as part of the complete holiday and treatment package for tourists.
Jenny Franco, CHWC vice president, said the council was designing packages that the group would offer to tourists visiting Cebu.
“The CBI Netherlands is helping us with the packages. We will be tying up with hospitals, hotels, restaurants and travel and tour operators for the packages because they are part of our value chain as identified by DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) in their study before,” said Franco, who is also the Cebu Chapter president of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies Inc.
The CBI is the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and part of the Development Co-operation effort of the Netherlands.
According to Franco, Cebu has a huge potential to become a major destinations for light medical procedures and treatments such as executive checkups, cosmetic treatments and dental treatments.
At present, Cebu is already enjoying a big number of tourists that come to Cebu to get cosmetic treatments or surgeries and then proceeds to visit other tourist destinations while they are here.
“We have clients already from Australia, Bahrain, USA and Europe who have make arrangements for these types of services, and I think that if we seriously push for this, we can expect more to come to Cebu,” Franco said.
Based on the customers the council members have serviced, the tourists stay in Cebu for at least three weeks. They easily spend at least $10,000 each person for the whole stay including their side trips to tourist destinations like dive spots and the beaches in Cebu.
The CHWC or the wellness council was formed in 2008. Oscar Tuazon, administrator of Cebu Doctors’ Hospitals, heads the group. It aims to collaborate council members’ efforts to sell Cebu as a prime medical tourism destination after seeing a growing number of tourists that come to Cebu for heart surgeries or organ transplants.
The council is made up of hospitals, travel and tour operators, hotels, resorts, restaurants, spa and wellness centers, the Department of Tourism and the Department of Trade and Industry among others.
Franco, however, said that the group realized that Cebu still couldn’t compete with places like the Medical City in Manila for more complicated medical services like heart transplants and other operations because Cebu still didn’t have available surgeons and enough facilities to cater to many tourists that would visit and avail of such services.
“Cebu’s edge, however, is it being already known as a leisure destination. And so what we do is just simply tie these into a whole wellness package for the tourists to make it more convenient for them, especially that planning for trips is not that easy,” Franco said.
According to Franco, Cebu is already known to offer cheaper and quality services especially in the cosmetics and dental services and they can bank on this to further promote their packages.
“For the USA alone, there are many Americans who are underinsured or even uninsured with dental services. And so they prefer coming here to have their dental treatments because they can have their vacation and have fun at the same time,” Franco said.
The council also plans to include art lessons, yoga and meditation lessons in some of the packages for the tourists.
“Marketing Cebu as a destination for light medical treatments is more realistic and more achievable as of this time. Maybe in the future we can slowly grow and offer other services, but first, we have to have a more solid start,” said Franco.