PENANG SET TO TRANSFORM INTO WORLD-CLASS MEDICAL TOURISM HUB

Penang is certainly one of Malaysia’s more popular tourist destinations which draws tourists from all over the world, not just for sightseeing but also to seek medical treatment.

The Pearl of the Orient is renowned as one of Southeast Asia’s largest medical tourism hubs as indicated by rising revenues of RM68 million in 2021 to RM285 million in 2022, with Indonesians being the highest spenders followed by Bangladesh and India.

The state, which has a population of 1.63 million, is set to establish a medical city and mixed development hub known as 'Meditech City' in Bandar Cassia, a new township in Batu Kawan, Seberang Perai Selatan, to further expand the medical tourism sector into the international market.

In an exclusive interview with Bernama, Penang Development Corporation (PDC) chief executive officer, Datuk Aziz Bakar said the RM11 billion medical city will be developed in collaboration with Fajarbaru Builder Group Bhd and other industry players over a period of 10 years and will generate a gross development value of approximately RM13 billion.

"It is a catalyst project for the development of Bandar Cassia and Penang. Meditech City will house the main components related to the medical sector, such as, specialist hospitals, general hospitals and other relevant aspects like rehabilitation centres, laboratories and educational centres.

"It will also have support facilities such as housing and relevant logistics for medical treatment and tourism. It will be an interesting medical tourism destination when completed," he said.

The 230-acre medical hub will be modeled after the Dubai Healthcare City and is expected to generate 12,000 job opportunities due to the high demand in the sector.

Aziz is also confident that Meditech City has the potential to attract not only local medical tourists but also from the region as well as developed countries due to its high-tech facilities with a minimum of 1,000 hospital beds.

"When it becomes a reality, it will be one of the best Meditech Cities in the world, not just this region but the world. They are even showing interest from the United Kingdom and looking at hospitals in this region as it is close to the Bayan Lepas Airport and there is even a ferry service," he said.

Penang is also developing the GBS (Global Business Services) by the Sea project in Bayan Lepas towards achieving a Global City status to enable multinational companies and large organisations to centralise operations, such as, finance, human resources, information technology ( IT) and procurement to provide shared services.

Aziz said the project, which includes a nine-storey building costing RM190 million with a 70 percent tenancy rate to date, is expected to be completed in August 2024.

The Meditech City and RM100 million GBS by the Sea projects are in line with the Penang state government’s commitment outlined in the Unity Manifesto, where medical fees collected from foreigners will be channeled into the State Social Development Fund established to benefit the needy in the state.

Meanwhile, TMC Life Sciences Berhad, executive director and group chief executive officer, Nadiah Wan described the Meditech City as a catalyst to further elevate Penang's prominence in the healthcare sector and a visionary initiative by the government.

Established in 2009, the TMC Fertility Centre in Penang has been a hub for both local and foreign patients, particularly from Indonesia, she said.

“With this in mind, we wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to serve an even broader audience. This initiative comes at an opportune time, when demand for specialised medical services, especially in the realm of fertility and women's health, is on the rise,” she added.

Nadiah emphasised that TMC Life Sciences' commitment to fostering healthy collaboration among both the public and private sector healthcare stakeholders is a significant step in advancing healthcare services and medical tourism in the region.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

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