Taipei, Oct. 25 (CNA) While rescue workers were busy searching for a group of Chinese tourists missing in eastern Taiwan, another group of Chinese nationals were enjoying a leisurely checkup in the serenity of a hospital in the country’s capital.
The group of 25 tourists, mostly middle-aged women in the beauty and cosmetics business, completed a detailed health exam Monday morning at Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital, said Alex Hung, president of Shin Kong Medical Club.
The experience was so enjoyable, Hung said, that some members of the group canceled the sightseeing part of their trip to squeeze in more health tests Tuesday.
“In China, a hospital is a place for sick people, ” said a woman who would only identify herself by her surname Qian. She described the Taiwanese hospital as being more like home, with the strong aroma of coffee replacing the usual smell of disinfectant.
This group of medical tourists from Nanjing arrived in Taiwan Friday, a day after nearly 300 Chinese nationals were stranded on the scenic Suhua Highway on the east coast because of landslides triggered by Typhoon Megi.
Most of them have since been evacuated to safety, but 20 of them remained unaccounted for as of Monday night.
When asked whether the incident had any impact on her plan to come to Taiwan, Qian replied that initially her family had had qualms about her journey, but once a scheduled trip to the eastern part of Taiwan was scrapped, she jumped at the opportunity.
The Chinese visitors would not reveal how much they paid for the tour, but each had to first pay a membership fee of NT$177,890 (US$5,834) to join the Taiwanese-invested, Guangzhou-based Zion Health Control and Youth Rejuvenation Center (ZION).
ZION’s stated purpose is to promote Taiwan’s medical tourism to upscale consumers in China, offering them medical services at the centers on the mainland and bringing them to Taiwan for more thorough checkups once a year.
According to ZION CEO Tomson Lin, at least two groups of Chinese travelers will come to Taiwan every month for medical checkups beginning in December, boosting the country’s medical tourism industry.
Lin explained that for medical tourism to flourish in Taiwan, promoting low-risk health checkups is a first step.
“Not only does it build up consumers’ confidence, it is also easily accepted by most people,” he said.
(By Nancy Liu) ENDITEM/ls