The Caribbean region can boost its bottom line by developing a medical tourism product that takes advantage of its brand as a great vacation destination, its proximity to North America as well as its tourism facilities, beaches and of course, the year-round warm weather of the region.
That’s according to Dr Paul Angelchik, founder of American World Clinics (AWC), and Collin Childress, CEO of Global MedChoices.
Their comments come as both prepare to discuss the potential of medical tourism for the Caribbean at a panel at Invest Caribbean Now 2014. ICN, the biggest global investment summit on the Caribbean outside of the region, is set for the Harvard Club in New York City from 11.30 am to 6.30 pm June 4 under the patronage of Hollywood Actor Malik Yoba.
“The opportunity for the Caribbean in general is that it carries a positive connotation in the view of many for having friendly people, natural beauty and a reputation as an enjoyable, upscale destination with great visitor amenities in many locations,” said Angelchik. “I have no doubt that the Caribbean can be a major region for MT activities, if there is follow through on the initial buzz of enthusiasm that has defined the industry to date.”
“Creating the opportunity for economic diversification through introducing a sustainable development and growth industry, such as medical tourism, to the Caribbean can help soften the impact of cyclical North American economic downturns in tourism on the Caribbean market and leverage the supply and demand issues that are driving patient flow offshore from Canada and the US,” added CEO Childress.
According to a 2013 article on imtj.com, “AWC are still to decide which island is the best first one for new hospitals for medical tourists, expatriates and local patients seeking a U.S. standard of medicine and medical care. “AWC already operates in Barbados.
The Bermuda Hospitals Board has been actively exploring medical tourism. It is offering a new prostate treatment in Bermuda that is not yet available in the U.S. An increase in medical tourism has been good for local hotels, with 1,000 hotel bookings as a direct result of the new treatment. Bermuda is upgrading its hospitals to make them more modern and appealing to tourists. They are also looking to add dental and cosmetic surgery facilities.
In 2011, the total impact of the medical tourism industry contributed 9 percent of global GDP and accounted for 255 million jobs in the world. In the next decade, medical tourism is expected to grow by an average yearly of 4 percent, contributing up to 10 percent of future global GDP. Eventually, by 2022, it is estimated that 328 million jobs will be created in the medical tourism industry: equal to 10 percent of jobs in the world.