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QC eyes medical tourism for economic growth

By Jan Milo Severo, Contributor
St. Luke’s Medical Center... Capitol Medical Center... Heart Center... Lung Center... Kidney Center... These are just some of the numerous hospitals located in Quezon City. With the number of hospitals located in this metropolitan hub, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista decided to aim for making the city one of the top medical tourism destinations in Asia.
In the recent Quezon City Medical Tourism Stakeholders Summit held at Seda Hotel Vertis North, Mayor Bautista instructed the city tourism department to gather inputs from stakeholders and to come up with a plan to raise the city in the medical tourism stage.
“On a global scale, I’ve learned that medical tourism is one of the so-called ‘sunrise industries.’ The growth is phenomenal and the Philippines is poised to benefit because of our hospitality, skilled doctors and ready facilities. Quezon City wants to be a part of that,” Bautista announced.
The actor-turned-politician said the city has a good economy where work and opportunities are available to all. He added that Quezon City is truly a medical and wellness destination with some of the best hospitals in the country located here.
“I believe Filipinos are the best in providing health care. ‘Ika nga nila, hindi masungit ang Pinoy. Magaan ang kamay natin para tumulong sa mga matatanda, sa may sakit o sa may kapansanan. Combining the best facilities with the best human resource, Quezon City is very ripe to take the challenge of medical tourism,” the mayor opined.
However, facilities such as hospitals, aesthetic clinics, gyms, restaurants, spas and human resources in medical tourism are still not enough. Hotels, lots of them, located near the different medical facilities are needed for medical tourism to succeed. “We’re trying to encourage as many hotel companies and corporations to come in Quezon City because we know that there is a need for this type of facilities in our city.”
Bautista admitted that there are not enough hotels nearby in the medical zone of Quezon City. However, he began talking to the communities at the back of the Philippine Heart Center to create Bed and Breakfast facilities in Teachers Village, Sikatuna Village and Barangay Pinyahan.
“To convince the homeowners, we will engage them. Perhaps we can give an incentive — for example, for three years wala kayong babayarang realty tax. But we have to zone them. Hangga’t maaari 10 or 15 ang pumayag out of 20 homes. And we have noticed yung mga matatandang nag-retire na government employees na may magagandang bahay binenta na para tayuan ng buiding. Parang, sige, magtayo ka ng building pero kailangan parang hotel type to cater to the needs or the requirements of the hospital zone,” Bautista said.
Also, Bautista instructed the city planning office to encourage building boutique hotels in the surrounding areas of the medical zone. “We don’t want our patients’ families to elsewhere na lalayo pa.”
“It is also important for the travel agencies to market Quezon City as a health and wellness hub. It is important that the patient and their respective families will have a complete experience. Let’s put this way, if someone is having a medical procedure at the Philippine Heart Center, his family shouldn’t need to venture outside of Quezon City to find a place to stay. We have to ensure that we have a clean, safe and accessible city for them.”
Bautista admitted that the government cannot do it alone so he needs the help of private sectors and residents to do their part for the ultimate goal.
“To make Vision 2020 a reality, we can’t do it alone. We need all your support starting today, from travel agencies to restaurants, we have to be ready to welcome tourist who are here to experience medical tourism. Work hand in hand with us! After all, it is our city that will be benefited. The more tourists come, the more people will be employed, the more people employed, the city will be more peaceful.”

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