Hainan plans medical tourism zone

Xinhua| Updated: April 6, 2013 L M S

BOAO, Hainan - The island province of Hainan has published a plan to build China's first special zone for medical tourism, an official said on Saturday at the Boao Forum for Asia.

Under the plan, the Boao Lecheng International Medical Travel Zone will be located near Qionghai city and Boao town, covering an area of about 20 square km, said Zhu Huayou, vice-head of Hainan's development and reform commission.

The southern part of the zone will feature health care centers for the elderly, patients with chronic disease and those in poor health, while the northern part will focus on medical treatment and research, Zhu said.

Medical tourism, which combines travel with leisure and healthcare, is already popular in some Asian countries like Singapore and India, and it is likely to boom in China thanks to rising living standards.

The zone in Hainan will make use of traditional Chinese medicine, the local tropical climate and world-class medical institutions the island aims to introduce, according to Zhu.

The official said that overseas medical institutions will be allowed to set up business within the zone. Other preferential policies will include lower taxes for imported medical instruments and medicines, and frontier medical programs like stem cell research will be allowed.

Construction of the zone is likely to cost up to 100 billion yuan ($16 billion).

The tropical island province, with its sun, sea and sand, is striving to build itself into an internationally famed travel destination.

According to the provincial statistics bureau, visitors to the island exceeded 33 million in 2012, with travel revenues hitting 37.9 billion yuan.