Hainan province is constructing China’s first special zone for medical travel, in order to attract what’s been called "migrant birds."
Traditionally in China, people prefer to stay where they are when they grow old and seldom travel.
But now, an increasing number of people have been breaking with tradition.
When winter comes, they will pack their luggage and go to Hainan, China’s tropical island province, to avoid the cold in the north.
They are dubbed "migrant birds."
Huang Ping from Beijing is one of them.
In middle age now, she is looking for a place to travel and spend her winters after retirement.
Hainan is one of her possible options. However, she has concerns about the availability local medical services and amenities.
"The place for me must have several facilities: first, a nice place to live; second, quality medical service. For example, when I am old, I will probably need good medical services under some emergency situations. Third, there must be facilities, such as cafes, restaurants and so on."
Huang Ping’s expectations when it comes to a good place to live and travel will soon become a reality in Boao, Hainan province. The Island is building China’s first special zone for medical travel.
The Boao Lecheng International Medical Travel Zone will be located near Qionghai city and Bo’ao Town, covering an area of about 20 square kilometers.
Lu Zhiyuan, director of the Hainan Tourism Development Committee says Hainan Island has a unique advantage for developing medical tourism.
"Hainan Island has very good air quality, very pure water, blue sky and ocean. Currently the pm2.5 in Boao is at 4."
The Director of The National Health and Family Planning Commission, Li Bin, says China has further advantages in the development of international medical tourism, with its rich resources, quality medical service, low costs, and even Chinese traditional medicines.
"Through developing medical tourism, the health service industry and tourism industry will be linked together. That will be favorable to the country’s economic transformation and upgrading, and it will also provide more job opportunities, meanwhile, it will make Chinese medical institutions take steps to adapt to international demand, so that the overall standard of medical service will be enhanced."
Li Bin adds that the International Medical Travel Zone in Hainan is taking the lead in the mission the healthy development of the health service industry. The government is allowing several privileges and policies in the trial zone.
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 some frontier medical programs will be allowed.
Medical tourism, which combines travel with leisure and healthcare, is already popular in some Asian countries and regions like Singapore and Hong Kong.
Former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke says he believes the Bo’ao Lecheng International Medical Travel Zone is promising.
"The island of Hainan is an extremely attractive place, so the concept of bringing together the best western medicine, specialists and Chinese medicine here in this great new center, it’s absolutely a magnificent concept. And I’m absolutely sure it’s going to be an outstanding success, because it has what people need, and it will be great for the economy of Hainan, and it would be good for China."
Hawke adds that the issue of aging populations is confronting the world today, and that will help the international medical travel zone prove to be a success.
Construction of the zone is estimated to cost up to 100 billion yuan, or some 16 billion US dollars.
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