SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—At a forum with members of Filipino and Taiwanese
business councils at the Formosa Hall of Subic Bay Gateway Park (SBGP),
Dr. Raymond Ricardo, president and chief executive officer of TotalMED,
said the medical-tourism market in Subic and Clark, has “huge
TotalMED operates several health-care centers
in the country, specializing in ambulatory hospitals and allied medical
education. To capitalize on the global trend of medical tourism, Dr.
Ricardo has forged a partnership to build a company with a Taiwanese
firm, a health-care products manufacturer, MedTecs Corp., which is
located at the SBGP (formerly Subic Bay Industrial Park).
Their common goal is to establish a world-class
medical center patterned after Bangkok’s Bumrungrad International,
the world’s leading one-stop center in medical tourism. The
growing medical-tourism industry is also being encouraged by the Philippine
government because of its high income-generating potential. In 2006
it was estimated that the total revenue generated by medical tourism
in Asia amounted to $2.5 billion. This is expected to grow to $4.5
billion in 2012.
This potential is prompting the scramble to be
the first movers in the medical-tourism market, especially in Subic
and Clark, which is already a haven for investors from all over the
country and the world.
In the combined Subic and Clark areas alone, there
are around 5,000 US military veterans and their dependents, plus around
100,000 ecozone employees and dependents of business locators.
The potential local market also includes a quarter
of the Philippine population that lives north of Manila, where there
are few hospitals equipped with magnetic resonance imaging, computerized
tomography scan, X-ray and medical laboratories.
“These are only the local markets,”
Dr. Ricardo said, pointing out that the bigger potential lies in foreign
patients who would travel to the country to avail themselves of world-class
health services at cheaper costs.
This phenomenon Ricardo added, is bringing some
250,000 medical tourists to Singapore each year, 500,000 to India,
and about 1 million to Thailand. The combined earnings of India and
Thailand in medical tourism reach $1 billion annually, he said.
“We see Subic as the next medical-tourism
destination in Asia in the next few years,” declared Dr. Ricardo,
as he briefed members of Filipino and Taiwanese business councils
at the Formosa Hall. “It’s all here in Subic—the
location is great, the ambiance is good, and the facilities are incredible,”
To be able to put up a world-class medical tourism
facility here, the two companies plan to convert MedTecs’ existing
building into a four-story complex of medical offices, assisted living
facilities, and a nursing school with a total floor area of 19,800
The project, Ricardo said, will capitalize on
the potentials of Subic for medical tourism, as well as the potential
local market. It will also provide a venue for local doctors and medical
personnel to practice in a world-class facility, and give local health
providers an opportunity to participate in the growing medical-tourism
Meanwhile, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA)
Administrator Armand Arreza, who joined the forum, said the medical-tourism
industry, which has an annual growth rate of 20 percent to 30 percent,
“presents a big opportunity for Subic Bay because of its excellent
natural environment that is conducive to healing.”
“Only a few destinations in the country
can compare to Subic Bay, because we also have here a world-class
international airport,” Arreza said.
“Next year the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway
will be finished and that will make Subic just 30 minutes away from
Clark, which also has an airport,” he added.
Arreza said the SBMA is now encouraging high-value
activities among companies in Subic, and has been shifting its focus
from the low-cost manufacturing model. “Medical tourism is one
of the areas wherein the Philippines and Taiwan can work very well
together and closely collaborate with,” Arreza added.