Health min­istry to tar­get med­i­cal tourism in­dus­try

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

(JIS): THE MIN­ISTRY of Health is aim­ing to at­tract more than 100,000 med­i­cal tourists to the is­land within the next 10 years.

Di­rec­tor of Plan­ning, Pol­icy and Devel­op­ment in the Min­istry Howard Lynch said the sec­tor has the po­ten­tial to pro­vide tremen­dous eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the coun­try.

“At a growth rate of 20 per cent in 10 years, it is es­ti­mated that Ja­maica’s share in the global mar­ket will amount to 0.3 per cent and would gen­er­ate over US$600 mil­lion,” he said. Lynch was speak­ing on be­half of Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry Elaine Fos­ter Allen at the Ja­maica Cham­ber of Com­merce (JCC) Cus­toms Tar­iff and Port Users Com­mit­tee’s 15th an­nual cus­toms sem­i­nar last week. He noted that med­i­cal tourism has po­ten­tial for higher earn­ings than tra­di­tional tourism, with es­ti­mated daily rev­enue gen­er­a­tion of US$1,300 per med­i­cal tourist. This is com­par­a­tively higher when com­pared with US$113 per per­son nightly by stopover vis­i­tors.

“Based on these es­ti­mates, med­i­cal tourism will pro­duce 10 times more than the main­stream tourist mar­ket,” he said, not­ing that the funds gen­er­ated from med­i­cal tourism could be used to off­set ex­penses in the pub­lic health care sys­tem. Med­i­cal tourism is the travel of peo­ple to a place other than where they nor­mally re­side for the pur­pose of ob­tain­ing med­i­cal treat­ment. It is be­com­ing a pop­u­lar op­tion in the in­ter­na­tional tourist mar­ket as it of­fers cost sav­ings, im­me­di­ate med­i­cal care, high stan­dards, post pro­ce­dural care, while pro­vid­ing the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore new des­ti­na­tions and cul­ture. Lynch said that Ja­maica, based on its ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion, is well po­si­tioned to take ad­van­tage of the in­dus­try. Cit­ing the open­ing of a pri­vate med­i­cal fa­cil­ity in Mon­tego Bay last year by the Hospiten Group, he en­cour­aged more in­vest­ment in the sec­tor.

“Pri­vate health care is crit­i­cal in our so­ci­ety and par­tic­u­larly in our ur­ban cen­tres and re­sort cor­ri­dors. Sat­is­fy­ing the to­tal health needs re­quires an on­go­ing part­ner­ship be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate health care providers. The min­istry urges other in­vestors to come on board to ex­plore other ar­eas across the is­land where we can build sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties,” he said.

CON­TRIB­UTED

The Hospiten cen­tre in Mon­tego Bay, St James.

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