Realizing the revenue potential of medical tourism, the hospitality and business sectors in Mindanao are now exploring ways to take advantage of the growing trend.
According to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study, 24 countries spent a combined $2.7 trillion on health and wellness in 2002 and the figure should rise to $10 trillion by 2020.
According to the same study, seven percent of the world population in 2007, or 42 million people, were at least 65 years old and the figure was expected to double by 2015.
The aging population, especially in the developed world, presents a huge market as the senior citizens search for wellness services and retirement homes.
These developments are among the reasons why President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order 372 on Oct. 18, 2005.
The EO aims to create a venue for partnership among the players in the medical tourism industry to make the country globally competitive in this sector.
Aside from medical tourism, other sectors that the Philippines wants to excel in are information technology (IT) and logistics. Mindanao can work on medical tourism and IT where it is fast gaining a firm foothold.
Among the key targets of the Philippines is to capture as much as half of the medical tourism market in Asia and generate revenues of $2 billion.
This can be achieved, the order specifically points out, if the country can provide world-class health and allied services to local and international patients, harmonize partnerships among health and allied services, including those in the travel services.