Tuesday, March 3, 2009

RP to host World Health Tourism Congress on March 26-28

The Philippines will firm up its position as a global and wellness destination in Asia by being the first Asian country to host the prestigious 2009 World Health Tourism Congress (WHTC) at Sofitel Hotel on March 26 to 28.

The initial WHTC was hosted by Germany in 2006, followed by Cyprus in 2007 and Spain in 2008.

The Philippines made a successful hosting bid in November last year, according to Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Joseph Ace Durano.

Durano said that the occasion will mark the country's position as a global and wellness destination as thousands of leading health and wellness tourism players from all over the world meet in Manila.

The three-day meeting will gather the world's best health and wellness service providers and corporate buyers for workshop and one-on-one business sessions to enable all parties to supply contracts, establish market linkages, form partnerships and do various mutually beneficial transactions.

The WHTC will also strongly focus on sports medicine, medical and cosmetic treatments.

Participating solution providers such as hotels, spas, health resorts, airlines, ambulance companies, medical services agents, inbound tour operators specializing in health tourism and general hospitals and clinics, especially those engaged in cosmetic dentistry, plastic surgery, orthopedic and sports medicine would be given all the opportunity to transact business.

"The DOT will match the services with the needs of corporate buyers who have pre-qualified as ultimate decision-makers in their respective organizations for matters of well-being and medical travel," said Tourism Undersecretary Cynthia L. Carrion.

The corporate buyers, according to travel industry leader Angel Ramos-Bognot, are health officials of various countries, particularly from the Arab world who are the biggest spenders in medical travel.

So are insurance companies whose network managers decide where to send their clients; third-party medical agents coming mostly from North America and Western Europe who combine travel arrangements with medical treatment, and outbound operators in search of health and wellness destinations for their clients back home.

The Philippines' participation and hosting of the event will make it possible for clients and health industry players to meet in an environment that is exclusively for business, and where they will have undivided attention of their potential customers away from trade shows and exhibition noise. (PNA/jem)

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