Aug 20, 2013
Not only for sandy beaches, but visitors will come for medical tourism
Living in a developed country has appeal because of the availability of most amenities known to man. However, there is also a price that comes with a developed nation’s quality of life, and that includes healthcare. Belize has joined countries who are now becoming an attraction because of the lower cost of healthcare. Isani Cayetano reports on medical tourism.
Every year, thousands of tourists from countries across the world disembark on Belizean soil to enjoy the rich history and culture of the Jewel. While local and international stakeholders, including hoteliers, tour guides and restaurateurs profit immensely from revenue generated through overnight and cruise tourism, a niche is currently being created for visitors wanting to seek medical services in Belize.
Nick Ruiz, Executive Director, BELTRAIDE
“We know that medical tourism is happening as we speak, you know. There are people, tourists who come to Belize to get medical services. In fact, that’s what a medical tourist would be cataloged as, coming to get dental services, some other medical services in Belize because of factors that make sense: accessibility, affordability, proximity to the big markets like Canada and the U.S. So what we want to do now is formalize the sector because we know it holds great potential, get the policies in place, get the incentive packages in place, address the mechanism requirements that need to be looked and if that’s a problem let’s work with that.”
In an effort to develop key strategies in order to get the ball rolling efficiently, BELTRAIDE has called all stakeholders to the table to discuss the way forward. This morning, representatives from various sectors within the industry converged at the ITVET Building to do just that.
“This is a follow-up activity to the development of the medical tourism sector in Belize. We have a strategy for the sector in place. One of the main activities coming out from the recommendations is that we needed to have a medical tourism association of Belize. Our consultant is back on the ground to see the formation of that association and I should mention as well that the recommendation sought also to bring onboard with BELTRAIDE, to work with the stakeholders, a specialist in the sector. So we have that person onboard as well. So those were the two salient recommendations that we felt we needed to run with and that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re developing that association and I should tell you that there is a lot of excitement inside the room as we speak with the formation of that association and what it holds, the promises it holds for Belize.”
“Is there a specific area of concentration, be it pharmaceutical or surgical and other practices or is it broad-based?”
“There is a stage/phase approach. Initially we want to go with those things that are readily attainable, dentistry, to name that, wellness, to name another one. We know that down the line we can work on surgery and cosmetic procedures and whatnot. So it is diverse. It is staged, as I said, phased with different services that we viewed to be provided in the first instance then down the line a few years and consequently in the long term.”
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