Reader’s Opinion: Medical Tourism

POSTED: 10/6/15 10:44 PM

Dear Editor,

Medical tourism is considered the Caribbean’s fastest-growing segment, which includes patients from the U.S. mainland, and medical tourism is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the world.

Country Sint Maarten needs to see an economic impetus and medical tourism is an area worth pursuing.  The private sector foreign investment investor interests has been shown, but we need to move forward in providing the necessary inputs that would allow this sector and the country to become a leading medical tourism destination in the north eastern Caribbean.

Sint Maarten’s Caribbean neighbors are moving full speed ahead and making strategic decisions and pursuing with haste to develop medical tourism.  As part of Puerto Rico’s strategy to attract health and wellness consumers, their Medical Tourism Corporation served as a platinum sponsor at the 8th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress that took place at the end of September in Orlando, Florida.

Neighboring Puerto Rico has taken an aggressive approach which includes certified training for hospital and hospitality professionals to market the island’s healthcare services to international patients.  Puerto Rico is looking at generating 3,000 jobs and a seeing a financial injection of US$300 million into the national economy.

Puerto Rico promoted at the Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress that medical and dental services are lower in the Caribbean part of the U.S. than on the mainland by 40 to 60 per cent.

The Dominican Republic is also pursuing medical tourism and has a new market that it is seeking patients – Canada.  The country is positioning itself.  Since 2009, Canadians have spent more than $350 million in surgery and other medical treatments abroad on an annual basis.

At the 8th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress in Orlando, the Dominican Republic’s Export and Investment Center reported to the conference attendees that it joins efforts and public-private partnerships to bolster Dominican medical tourism as a model, attracting investments to ensure sustained quality and competiveness.

Sint Maarten has the potential to become a leading medical tourism destination.  The country already has the flight connections; and we can offer patients to combine their health-related stay on the island with our well established leisure and entertainment sectors.

One of the most important benefits for the people of the country will be having access to medical specialists here on the island; so besides the creation of job opportunities, economic activity across the board for the tourism sector; the people will have world-class medical care which we now have to travel abroad to receive.

Roddy Heyliger 


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