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Taiwan to host world medical tourism conference in June

TAIPEI--Taiwan will host the Asia segment of the annual World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress (WMTC) this year for the first time, the organizers said yesterday.

In June, some 200 delegates from more than 25 countries are expected to attend the Asia Conference, which will focus on the quality of healthcare available in Asia, according to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), one of the organizers.

A total of 800 people from the medical and insurance industries will attend the event, TAITRA President and CEO Peter Huang said at a press conference in Taipei.

The event will offer opportunities for networking among the presenters — 15 health care industry experts from eight countries — and stakeholders in the region's medical tourism industry, Huang said.

"This will mark a milestone in Taiwan's medical tourism, strengthening our position as a top medical tourism destination," he added.

To help facilitate the networking process, about 200 one-on-one business meetings have been organized, while 40 exhibition booths will be set up onsite, TAITRA said.

Huang, however, declined to predict how much business the meeting will generate, saying only that he expects good results.

Taiwan's medical tourism industry is expected to pump NT$13 billion (US$436.8 million) into the national coffers in 2014, according to TAITRA.

Renee-Marie Stephano, president of the U.S.-based Medical Tourism Association, said at the press conference that she sees great potential in Taiwan's medical tourism.

In 2013, over 200,000 foreign travelers sought medical treatment in Taiwan, and the number is expected to grow as Taiwan can provide high-quality healthcare and is dedicated to ensuring good patient experience, Stephano said.

Medical tourism is one of the fastest growing and lucrative sectors in the travel industry, with the movement of medical travelers in Asia is increasing annually by 20-30 percent, way ahead of overall travel in the region, she said.

At the press conference, Vice Health Minister Hsiu Ming-neng also said the meeting will be a great opportunity for Taiwan's medical industry to not only demonstrate its strengths but also enhance its competitiveness.

The WMTC is the Medical Tourism Association's annual international conference, which holds its membership meetings in the United States.

This year's congress will be held in Washington D.C. in September. The group's first Asian meeting took place in South Korea in 2010.

The Taiwan meeting will be held June 26-27 at the Taipei International Convention Center.

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