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Taiwan grants entry permits for medical care

By Xie Yu (China Daily)

08:52, January 04, 2012

SHANGHAI - Health care providers in Taiwan can arrange "medical exams" or "beauty" trips for tourists from the Chinese mainland since authorities in Taiwan further relaxed control of mainland visitors to the island on Monday.

Previously, mainlanders could go to Taiwan for medical services, but they needed to arrange a tourist or business entry permit from the Taiwan authorities. The new policy makes healthcare an acceptable reason for mainlanders to visit Taiwan.

By last November, about 3 million tourists from the mainland arrived in Taiwan in groups since July 2008, according to a report submitted to China's legislature last year.

In July 2008, a ban on group tourism from the mainland was lifted by Taiwan authorities, and individual tourists are permitted from some cities.

Businesspeople in healthcare and aesthetic medicine believe the new policy will boost their business. In the past, many mainland residents went to Hong Kong or South Korea for medical and aesthetic treatment - including plastic surgery, weight reduction and skin care - but Taiwan could be a new option, because the cost of medical care is two-thirds or even half of that in Hong Kong and Singapore, and there is no language barrier.

Charles Yen, general manager of Taiwan Mal Health Management Co, told China Daily that the company has received "much more interest and inquiries from the mainland" since the group tour ban was lifted. But some customers balked at the inconvenience of a tourist or business entry permit.

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