Costa Rica Promotes Medical Tourism
• Medical Travel International Business Summit brought together 13 countries and 200 companies.
The wide range of medical and health services, in general, hospital infrastructure, and the country's tourist attractions, make Costa Rica a favorite destination for dozens of tourists who opt to undergo treatments and surgeries here.
This boom has been brought about in recent years and has received the government's support; it is evident in the statistics of tourist visitation. Every year, people come to the country to look for cheaper options for plastic surgeries, dental works, and aesthetic procedures in tourist sites, medical centers, and private clinics. This tourism niche has diversified, prompting the government to declare such activity of public interest years ago.
"Medical tourism has been established as the fifth aspect of tourism in the country. It is not only an activity that benefits the physician, but it also benefits hoteliers, tour operators, and carriers," said Minister of Tourism Allan Flores in an article published by La Nacion newspaper.
According to the Costa Rican Board of Tourism (ICT), medical tourism generated revenues of $ 288 million last year and allowed the arrival of some 36,000 tourists.
Medical Travel International Business Summit
Costa Rica has hosted the Medical Travel International Business Summit for the past three years. This year, the event was held in late April. According to official data provided by the organizers, people from 13 Latin American countries and 200 companies of the industry attended the activity.
According to several institutions linked to this segment of tourism, the goal is to consolidate Costa Rica and Latin America as leading destinations for medical tourism and attention of health needs, particularly for the U.S. market.
Two hundred companies participated in the event; among them were hospitals, clinics, hotels, facilitators for medical tourism, insurance companies, and self-insured companies. About 500 people from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Bahamas, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina, and Costa Rica attended.
Last year, the Congress generated 1 000 business meetings; they represented quite important opportunities for areas such as Orthopedics, aesthetics, and treatments for diabetes, among others.
"Problems related to care costs in the U.S. and Canada multiply the opportunities for Costa Rica to become a destination for medical tourism. A recent study of a major U.S. consulting firm indicates that control health costs is a major concern for employers in that country. During the Congress, Costa Rica will show international buyers the best of its range of services, going from hospitals to clinics, hotels, rehabilitation and welfare centers, transportation, and specialized tours," said Jorge Cortes, President of PROMED.
According to Allan Flores, the ICT supports the organization of this congress, which projects and positions Costa Rica in the medical tourism segment, given the attractiveness and high competitiveness of our country.
Medical tourism in figures
• In 2010, medical tourism generated $288 million in revenue for Costa Rica.
• By 2014, we want to achieve $800 million in foreign exchange.
• On average, a medical tourist spends six times more than a tourist coming for holiday purposes.
• In 2010, Costa Rica received 36,000 medical tourists.
• Target for 2014: 100,000 medical tourists.
• Most wanted Surgeries in Costa Rica: Dental procedures (36%), plastic and cosmetic surgeries (12%), orthopedic, bariatric, cardiovascular surgeries (22%), and other medical treatments (14%).