.  台灣觀光醫療發展協會 - Is Taiwan Asia's Next One-Stop Plastic-Surgery Shop? (Time)

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首頁 arrow 新聞 arrow Is Taiwan Asia's Next One-Stop Plastic-Surgery Shop? (Time)
Is Taiwan Asia's Next One-Stop Plastic-Surgery Shop? (Time) PDF 列印 E-mail
2010/07/16, 週五
Is Taiwan Asia's Next One-Stop Plastic-Surgery Shop? (Time)  
 
By Sarah Tung, 
Friday, Jul. 16, 2010 
 

Overseas Taiwanese who frequently return to the island might recommend
savoring succulent street food or exploring Taipei's boisterous night 
markets. Or they may pass along the business card of a favorite plastic
surgeon or dermatologist.

And why not? Taiwan has long been popular with its expatriate population
as a medical-travel destination. At Taipei's abundant health care facilities,
the equipment is modern and sophisticated, and most importantly, prices
are considered a steal. Some of the biggest savings are in liver-transplant
surgery, which runs to around $91,000, compared with some $300,000 in the
U.S. (Read about medical tourism in Latvia.)

Price tags like that have built a small but devoted following for Taiwan's
niche medical-tourism market, and it's about to get a lot more customers.

Taiwan's neighbors across the strait have been making their way to the
island for a nip or a tuck since travel restrictions for Chinese tourists
were lifted in mid-2008. Now, in the latest of a series of agreements
and concessions between China and Taiwan, Taipei announced last week
that Chinese tourists will soon be allowed to travel individually to
the island — a development that many medical-tourism proponents are
hoping will be a boon to their industry.  

Taiwan's current policy only permits controlled tour groups from the
mainland, which limits options for Chinese who seek varied medical
services. "Under group-travel restrictions, tourists are told where
they can go and when. They can't deviate from the set itinerary," says
David Wang, a plastic surgeon and chairman of the Taiwan Medical Tourism
Development Association. "I've heard of a few people who will secretly
come [for plastic surgery], perhaps under a fake name or by claiming
they are here on business." Now, Chinese patients seeking operations
can plan ahead and book Botox treatments and eye-bag or double-eyelid
surgery at Wang's offices on their own schedule. 
 
Compared to those of its regional neighbors, Taiwan's medical-tourism
industry is only in its infancy. Its output last year narrowly missed
the $20 million mark, whereas revenue in more established Asian medical-
travel industries, Singapore and Thailand, reached billions of dollars. 
 
Still, many enterprising people in Taiwan believe it has room to grow.
"The dollar return per patient is the highest of any other business in
the service industry," says Sammy Yen, general manager of Lion Travel's
medical-tourism branch. Lion Travel, Taiwan's biggest travel agency,
has spent the past year and a half building its medical-tourism services
center. The company partnered with Chung Gung Medical Foundation, the
largest private hospital chain on the island, and touts its newest
business venture as the total package that caters to all hua ren, or
members of the global Chinese community.  
 
Mainland tourists could be a huge boost. According to Taiwan government
statistics, just over 972,000 tourists from China journeyed to the tear-
shaped island in 2009 — a 195% jump from the figure in the previous year,
when the two sides made transit and tourism agreements. Further encouraging
cross-strait exchanges, last month Chinese aviation officials announced
a 10% to 15% reduction in airfares for flights between the two sides. 
 
With over a million projected to visit this year, even more mainlanders
will be emptying their wallets into Taiwan's service sector. 
 
Wang, the plastic surgeon, already travels to China about once a month
to promote his practice, and he isn't the only one. 
 
Many enterprising proponents of Taiwan's medical tourism have been making
the cross-strait journey in the hopes that they, too, might entice more
mainlanders to seek medical care on the island. "Not many people know about
the quality of Taiwan's health care system," says Richard Wu, CEO of Taiwan
Task Force for Medical Travel. "It's our priority to first put out Taiwan
as a brand name and then promote individual hospitals for services." 
 
The fact that these customers will now be able to travel to Taiwan solo
will only help. "No one would join a group tour that lets everyone else
know they are going for plastic surgery or other medical reasons," Yen
says. "With individual travel, you can just tell your neighbor you are
going to Taiwan for vacation."   
 
 
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2004023,00.html#ixzz0u6ep3Q9s  
 
 
 
 
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