Hainan is boosting medical tourism as a new growth driver by developing a medical tourism pilot zone, a provincial official revealed on Tuesday.
Shen Xiaoming, governor of Hainan province, made his remarks at a panel discussion of Hainan delegation during the ongoing first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing. [Special coverage]
Approved in 2013 by the State Council, China's cabinet, the Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone is the first of its kind in the country. It enjoys nine preferential policies, including faster approval for the import of medicines and medical devices as well as permission for overseas investment in establishing medical organizations in the zone.
The pilot zone will have promising prospects as there is an imbalance between the demand and supply of medical resources in China, Shen said, citing statistics that about 600,000 Chinese people traveled overseas for healthcare solutions in 2016, such as treating late-stage cancers and other serious diseases, receiving physical examinations and undergoing cosmetic surgeries.
By the end of February this year, a total of 39 projects had been approved for development in the zone, with 27 beginning construction and four already in operation.
While trying to meet domestic demand, the zone also targets the whole Asian market, said Shen, also a deputy to the NPC.
He said he believed medical tourism would become a new growth driver for Hainan to step up its supply-side structural reform and promote the development of modern services in the province.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Hainan's status as a province and a special economic zone in China. As the largest special economic zone and the only provincial-level international tourism island in China, the province is working to deepen its supply-side structural reform by developing 12 major industries, including tourism and healthcare, according to this year's provincial government work report delivered by the governor in January.