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TTC Special: Caribbean: Health tourism can help

TTC Special: Caribbean: Health tourism can help

By Frank Martin

TTC Service.-The efforts of the Caribbean in favor of health tourism are redoubled.

The reason why is that this industry branch is growing more and more worldwide and will be a great reinforcement for the economies of the regional islands.

Although Cuba has for years been a pioneer in this objective, Jamaica is currently dedicating a great part of its time to the so-called medical tourism.

The president of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, says the country’s medical talent pool is at a stage where a successful launch into the health and wellness tourism market can be done.

A key target market could be the diaspora in the UK, USA and Canada – but there are problems that all three countries have compulsory state or private insurance so the actual potential may be much less than it seems, according to experts estimates.

Experts added that JAMPRO has been trying, without much success, to promote medical and health tourism since the 1990s.

JAMPRO has also been trying to attract clinics.

The center’s key focus of Jamaica is to promote health and tourism in the Caribbean by providing a proactive service for early detection of chronic kidney disease and on-going support for patients living with the condition.

JAMPRO, experts added, are keen on attracting more investments into the health care sector to increase innovation and services for Jamaican and international patients.

The expansion of the health tourism sector is included in the diversity objectives of the Caribbean. Small island states have increasingly sought new means of economic diversification.

Several Caribbean states have begun to develop medical tourism, partly building on existing tourist-oriented economies.

Medical tourism has boomed in this century in several states in Asia and in Central America. The Bahamas, Barbados and the Cayman Islands exemplify different strategies for medical tourism, in order to generate foreign exchange and new employment, and reduce costs from overseas referrals.

Today health tourism is a highly competitive global business.

In 2021 the worldwide health tourism market will reach somewhere between US$46.6 billion and US$125 billion per annum and is experiencing a compound annual growth rate of somewhere between 13 and 19 percent. In contrast, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that average growth rates for Caribbean tourism is about 3.8 percent per annum.

Caribbean nations with good connections by air, advanced medical facilities, and having either the ability to attract well-qualified physicians, support staff and therapists, or in the case of Cuba with a surplus of local healthcare professionals ought to be well placed to capitalize on all aspects of health tourism, according to experts.