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Monday, September 29, 2008

Farrali wellness resort a shot in the arm for Penang

MEDICAL tourism activities in Penang are set to be boosted with the entry of a new player in Penang.

The RM300 million Farrali International Specialist Hospital and Wellness Resort in Batu Kawan on the mainland is set to not only woo medical tourists from Indonesia and Thailand, but as far as the Middle East, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

The project will be undertaken by Kuala Lumpur-based Kumpulan Perubatan Farrali Mutiara Sdn Bhd (KPFM) and is slated for completion by 2011.

The integrated medical resort, which will boost 120-bed and state-of-the-art medical equipment to treat chronic ailments like diabetes and cancer, will also boast a nursing college, convention centre, hotel and service apartments and a herbal farm.

"This project complements the state government's efforts in increasing the tourism sector's current contribution of 22 per cent to the state coffers to 30 per cent in five years," he said on Saturday.

Lim was speaking during a signing ceremony between KPFM and the Penang Development (PDC) for the purchase of six hectares of land at Mukim Batu Musang in Batu Kawan where the medical resort will be sited.

Present were KPFM executive chairman Datuk Alias Ali and PDC general manager Datuk Rosli Jaafar. Batu Kawan is the site on mainland Penang where the Second Penang Bridge is supposed to be located.

The 24km crossing will connect Batu Kawan and Batu Maung on Penang island, which is minutes from the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas.

The new private hospital is set to offer complementary medical treatments such as acupuncture and ayurvedic treatments.

The five-star hotel resort, with 200 rooms and service apartments close to the private hospital, will cater to needs of patients and their families who intend to remain in Penang for extended periods for treatment.

Other facilities like a spa, restaurants, recreational facilities and shopping outlets are also planned.

Lim said with the presence of five-star medical facilities in Penang, the state will be able to tap into the lucrative medical tourism market.

In 2004, about 152,000 foreign tourists sought treatment in seven private hospitals in Penang and this generated revenue of RM135 million.

Medical tourists to Penang in 2001 totalled 72,000, 2002 (84,000) while the number rose to 92,000 in 2003.

By New Straits Times (by Marina Emmanuel)

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