Hainan medical pilot zone opens for Chinese

The approval process of imported medicines has been cut down to less than two days, according to the pilot zone administration, and Lecheng also has preferential policies about import tariffs. Patients can take small quantities of imported drugs outside the pilot zone if they are in urgent clinical need, but only for personal use.

Hainan, the southernmost province of China, is rebranding itself into a free trade port. Designating the island as a new window to Southeast Asia and beyond, Chinese authorities are striving to further open up its market.

The COVID-19 outbreak has taken a toll on the island’s tourism, as much of the world’s population is still under lockdown. But on the beaches and promenades in Sanya, the island’s most prominent tourist city, people are gradually coming back.

Before COVID-19 hit China in January, Hainan’s tourism witnessed a healthy growth. 83 million trips were made to the island in 2019, according to Hainan Provincial Department of Tourism, and the number of foreign visitors was 1.4 million.

Some tourists are choosing to travel abroad, because they think Sanya is more expensive compared to other countries. So Hainan is making an effort to boost tourism by expanding duty-free shopping, promoting medical tourism and sports tourism.

In Boao, the Hainan Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone is expected to be fully open by 2030. Numbers so far are lower than predicted as prices are relatively high. Hospitals are trying to connect their medical services to the country’s government health and medical insurance programmes, in the hope of attracting more customers.