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China's tropical island to introduce medical tourism


08:39, March 07, 2013

BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- China's southernmost island of Hainan Province will set up a "special zone," where overseas medical institutions will enjoy preferential business policies for boosting medical tourism, a senior official said Wednesday.

The Boao Lecheng International Medical Travel Zone will be located along the east coast of the island and near the town of Boao, where the Boao Forum for Asia has been held annually since 2001, said Hainan governor Jiang Dingzhi.

Jiang said medical travels, already popular in some Asian countries like Singapore and India, combine travels with leisure and health care, and are likely to boom in China thanks to the rising living standards of people.

The zone, already approved by the State Council on Feb. 28, will enjoy preferential policies that are seen nowhere else, the governor said.

Foreign medical institutions will be allowed to set up business within the zone, while medical joint ventures will not be subject to a share ceiling, a limitation upon overseas medical business in China, Jiang said.

Lower taxes will be granted to imported medical instruments and medicines in the zone, and frontier medical programs like stem cell research will be allowed, Jiang said.

"It is the only travel zone of its kind in the country and I am confident that it will be a success," Jiang, a deputy to the National People's Congress, the top legislature, told reporters on the sidelines of the parliamentary session.

The tropical island province, with its sun, sea and sand, is striving to build itself into an internationally famed travel destination.

According to the provincial statistics bureau, visitors to the island exceeded 33 million in 2012, with travel revenues hitting 37.9 billion yuan (6 billion U.S. dollars).

Jiang, however, noted that travel business on the island is more traditional, hence the need for modern travel modes of technological and cultural attraction.

Covering an area of 200 square kilometers, the zone will be built with an investment up to 100 billion yuan. "It is a huge program," he said.

Jiang said there is no detailed timetable for the program, but he hoped the zone will be operational within two or three years. "The construction of the medical travel zone has already started," he added.

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