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Friday, February 29, 2008

Wellness Zone boost for tourism industry

TOURISM Malaysia has initiated a Wellness Zone project in Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan, to attract foreign tourists and further grow this tourism segment.

Deputy secretary general of Tourism Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng said the Wellness Zone, initiated in 2007, will kick off within the next one to two years.

HEALTHY DISCUSSION: (From Left) Ong, Datuk Dr Chan Kok Ewe from Island Hospital and Woodman

The project covers a 61km zone from Lukut to Pasir Panjang, Port Dickson.

"It will be an integrated area offering medical, wellness and spa facilities," Ong told Business Times when met at the Medical Travel World Congress 2008 on Tuesday.

He said a pilot project will be set up at Palm Springs Resort City.

The resort's master developer is Tanco Holdings Bhd while the Genium group will be involved with the Wellness Zone within the resort. Genium will both develop and manage this segment.

Among the treatments that will be offered in the zone are medical, aesthetic, cosmetic surgery, dental services, wellness treatment and traditional medicine.

Ong said that businesses in the zone will be given tax incentives which include 70 per cent of income generated by companies through services rendered to foreign citizens be tax-exempted for 10 years.

Machines and equipment will also be given tax exemption, he said.

On why Port Dickson was chosen, Ong said: "It is close to Kuala Lumpur and is associated with relaxation."

Wellness tourism is a component of health tourism but is distinguished from medical tourism.

At the conference meanwhile, "Patients Beyond Borders" author Josef Woodman said there are between two million and three million medical travellers worldwide, with a bulk of them going to Southeast Asia, North Asia and India.

Woodman estimates the growth of this industry at 20-34 per cent annually, and that by 2010, the global market for this business will be at US$40 billion (RM128.8 billion).

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

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