Why medical tourism is not taking off in the Philippines

Despite new hospitals opening in Cebu targeting medical tourists, the province and country are failing to attract many medical tourists.

Cebu Health and Wellness Council (CHWC) chairman Oscar Tuason explains the problems; “We still struggle to compete with Thailand and Singapore as we cannot get support from our own local government. We are branding the Philippines as a competitive alternative medical destination in Asia. But high hotel rates, limited direct access and lack of infrastructure has prevented the industry from fully taking off. Competitors like Singapore and Thailand offer lower hotel rates for medical tourists and medical tourists are not the priority markets of our local hotel industry. We lack direct access from other countries; while leisure tourists don’t mind going through several connections before reaching Cebu or the Philippines, medical patients prefer to be on non-stop flights. Cebu has no direct access yet to Europe and the United States.”

Low paying health checks, minimally invasive surgeries, and eye services are the popular medical services that foreign patients seek in Cebu.

CHWC is a private sector led association of industry stakeholders that seeks to develop and encourage health and wellness and medical tourism to Cebu. CHWC includes three hospitals, two clinics and two spas. Cebu Doctors University Hospital, Chong Hua Hospital and Perpetual Succour Hospital are the major partner hospitals of CHWC. The three hospitals market individually while CHWC is using social media to promote local medical tourism.

View the IMTJ’s report on the latest medical tourism efforts in the Philippines.