Philippines to offer medical tourist visas

by AFP ,  The Independent UK | 2011-01-19

The Philippines said Tuesday it would introduce special medical visas for foreigners, as the country seeks to grab a bigger share of Asia's booming health tourism industry.

The medical tourist visas, to be introduced this year, will allow foreigners to stay in the country for six months without having to apply for extensions as regular tourists are required to do, according to the Bureau of Immigration.

"The visa will help the Philippines become competitive in the lucrative medical tourism market in Asia now dominated by Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand among others," immigration bureau deputy head Ronaldo Ledesma told AFP.

The government is banking on its English-speaking and internationally trained doctors among its advantages, as well as medical and surgical costs that are up to 50 percent cheaper than the United States or Europe.

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