Tusday, August 7, 2012 – While the rest of the world, for the most part, is in the depths of economic disaster, the country of the Philippines is experiencing an economic nirvana. From the United States comes a statement of confidence that is encouraging for our country.
As the world economic crisis looms, we are starting to feel the effects hit our country.Texas Instruments is cutting 400 jobs in the Philippines, and offshore workers are being sent back by the planeload. As I talk with the various Korean hotel and resort operators in Clark and Subic, I am told that they are starting to feel the effects in both their business dealings back home and in their operations in the Philippines.
The positive growth and investment in Clark and Subic is being challenged and we need to be proactive and prepared for a quickly changing world.The depth of this economic crisis is being compared to nothing previously witnessed since the great worldwide depression of the 1930s.If we don’t put our thinking caps on and position ourselves for this downturn, we could be severely set-back and derailed from our lofty goals.
Looking for direction and growth in new areas we should look to Expats, retirees on a fixed income and foreigners looking for a more reasonable place to spend the golden years of their lives.These are groups the Philippine government and the private sector should take the initiative to actively campaign the benefits of relocating to this country.
When individuals think about Subic, thoughts of several adventure parks and the lure of beachfront resorts come to mind. When we think about Clark, our thoughts of golf courses and casinos dominate.
Clark could use a much more firm identity and a means to entice large groups of permanent and semi-permanent residents to its cooler climate and clean air and the beauty of its surroundings.Clark is the perfect location for foreigners, and specifically those looking to retire or relocate to a more affordable environment, but one major consideration are missing.
If we wish to turn Clark into a retirement haven for foreigners, we must realize that a top priority for retirement-age individuals coming from developed countries is the need for top-rate medical care and modern, well-equipped medical facilities.
If our government and the private sector were to focus on creating a truly sophisticated and technologically advanced, world-class medical facility in the Clark Freeport, I believe we would see record numbers of retirees from countries such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, Australia, Europe and America arrive on our shores.
As you drive through the Clark Freeport you will see a handful of new subdivisions and high-end housing communities springing-up in lush, tree-lined areas.With Texas Instrument’s new, one billions dollar plant being built, these subdivisions were anticipated to fill-up quickly with management personnel and foreigner’s families.With the world quickly falling into a downturn, we are starting to see work on these communities gradually slow-down.
Clark already offers the benefits of added-security, improved air-quality, wide-open roads, great utilities and infrastructure, world-class golf courses, resorts, hotels, a variety of restaurants and a divided super highway to all the fun and excitement in Subic.
Not only is Clark the perfect spot for a retirement and expat haven, but it would make the ideal location for a medical tourism-oriented facility in the Philippines. With medical tourism on the rise worldwide, the time is now!Almost 50 million Americans have no health insurance and the hundreds of millions that do, continue to see their health insurance cost rise exponentially with many optional procedure not covered by their insurance. More and more Americans are reaching-out to other countries for an affordable alternative to healthcare in their own country.Individuals from the United States and some European countries, seeing their medical costs skyrocket, are looking to combine medical procedures with an opportunity to do a little travel and see some new spots, but for most medical tourists, the main incentive is the price differential.
As an example, the cost of surgery in India, Thailand or South Africa can be one-tenth that of comparable procedures in the United States or Western Europe, and sometimes even less.A heart-valve replacement normally costing $200,000 or more in the U.S. goes for only $10,000 in India – and this includes the airfare and a mini vacation to boot. Dental work prices are also very attractive in other countries. A dental bridge normally costing over $5000 in the United States goes for only $500 in India. A complete facelift that routinely costs $20,000 in the U.S. will only cost about $1,250 in South Africa.With these kinds of savings, you can see why individuals are willing to travel great distances, and while they are at it, they get to see some new part of the world.
Countries such as Thailand, South Africa and India see the opportunity and are doing and heavily promoting combination tour/medical procedure packages and then advertising these opportunities to the U.S. and European countries.
There is no reason why the Philippines can’t do the same and we can start the trend right here in Clark. The Philippines has been producing high quality nurses and doctors for many years. Unfortunately, many tend to leave our country to work abroad where the money is much more attractive. If we encourage, both our government and the private sector to invest in a large, state-of-the-art medical facility right here in Clark, staffed it with the best doctors our country has to offer, and pay them wages comparable to western societies, we would retain a good portion of our medical graduates, be able capitalize on the new medical tourism industry and provide a world-class medical facility to foster growth of the retirement sector.If Clark were able to secure this course of action, I believe we could transform this downturn into a turnaround and possibly foster a new opportunity for the Philippines.