More investors are eyeing Hainan province's opportunities for healthcare tourism, a booming industry expected to bring in $678 billion in 2017 worldwide, according to a United States research report.
Under the spotlight of the Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone - China's first pioneering base for healthcare tourism - Hainan is going deeper in exploring a multimode health care tourism service industry to promote the Healthy China plan.
"It focuses on healthcare projects, commercial health insurance and internet medical services, in a bid to build Hainan into a leading international healthcare tourism destination in the world", said Han Yingwei, director of the Hainan Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission.
Official figures shows that the medical and healthcare industries made up more than 11 percent of the provincial GDP in 2015, implying a solid basis for building a new model with international tourism features.
Hainan has attracted a number of international medical groups such as the Austrian Vamed Group, which has established a joint venture hospital with the HNA Group in Haikou, capital of Hainan province, to bring in new technology and service concepts that are important for the local medical industry, according to media reports.
"Trusteeship cooperation with well established hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have effectively raised the comprehensive level of its healthcare services and laid a good foundation for further development," said Han.
The first set of imported linear accelerator equipment, with a value of $3.43 million, recently passed official inspections and was approved for installation at the Boao Evergrande International Hospital in Lecheng, a small town 6 kilometers away from the site of the Boao Forum for Asia in Qionghai on tropical Hainan Island.
Yiling Lifecare Center at the Boao Lecheng, since opening in January, has received more than 8,000 membership tourists due to its services that are oriented toward improving quality of life through bio-medicine, anti-aging treatments, regenerative medicine and psychological rehabilitation.
Lecheng, with its 700-year history, was chosen in 2013 to become the country's first pilot zone of a world-class international medical tourism center, a low-carbon community and a meeting center for international organizations.
Five medical services have started trial operations in Lecheng and more than 20 others are under construction.
"The main businesses of these projects, covering around 130 hectares and attracting investment of 22.8 billion yuan ($3.3 billion), involve treatment of tumors, plastic surgery, anti-aging services, cutting-edge medical technology research, health management and rehabilitation," said Lin Ping, deputy director of the zone's administration office.
He said another 36 projects have passed medical technology appraisals and in total the administration has talked with developers of 94 high-end medical and healthcare projects, with a potential total investment of 60 billion yuan.
Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and served by a cluster of high-end medical professionals, the zone, surrounded by the lush tropical scenery of the Wanquan River - nicknamed China's Amazon - and catering to patients from around the country and overseas, will be able to receive 5 million tourists a year when all the projects are completed in about five years, according to Lin.
The State has granted a number of preferential policies to the pilot zone to develop an international medical tourism model for the country's healthcare industry and turn the island into a medical tourist and vacation paradise.
Under the policies, foreign companies will be able to set up medical organizations in the zone and foreign doctors will be allowed to practice there for up to three years.
As a new policy beneficiary, Sanya, at the southern tip of the island, together with the Boao Lecheng International Medicinal Tourism Pilot Zone, have been listed among China's first group of 13 areas designated to build medical and healthcare tourism demonstration bases for the country, according the official website of the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Jiang Huicheng, chairman of the Hainan First Investment Holding Group, which has established the Chengmei International Medical Center at Lecheng, said: "Social investors are attracted by the opportunities of medical services in Hainan."
By making good use of the island's natural environmental advantages, medical and health businesses will experience renewed and solid development."
He said growth of Hainan's medical and healthcare industries in recent years has benefited the local people and attracted both domestic and overseas tourists.
During a recent trip to inspect medical projects for rehabilitation and treatment of children with cerebral palsy in Sanya, Roshal Leonid Mikhailovich, president of the Russian National Medical Commission, spoke highly of the city's medical capabilities and its integration with Western medicine.
He said the Russian commission has signed a framework on medical and healthcare cooperation with the provincial health authorities, adding that he hoped to import Chinese medicine technology to Russia.
The hospital, which is now providing tailored medical services to tourists, has provided medical treatments to more than 40,000 foreign tourists since it introduced the Chinese healthcare tourism project in 2002.
Hainan, once a key stop on the ancient Maritime Silk Road and now growing into an international tourism destination, plans to build the island into an all-for-one international demonstration zone for traditional Chinese medicine tourism by 2020.