The Changing Face of Tourism: Health Tourism
Tue, 29/11/2011 - 16:42 — Chris
Health Tourism generally gets a bad press as it is associated with people traveling to get medical care that they couldn't get at home. Wikipedia defines it as (Medical Tourism) a term initially coined by travel agents and the media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of travelling across international borders to obtain health care. It also refers pejoratively to the practice of healthcare providers travelling internationally to deliver healthcare.
Without doubt it is a growing market, with over 50 countries identifying medical tourism as a national industry as services typically sought by travelers include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgery such as joint replacement, heart, dental and cosmetic However, virtually every type of health care, including psychiatry, alternative treatments, convalescent care and even burial services are available.
Avoiding waiting times and reducing costs are the two most common reasons for Health Tourism, with the promotion higher in the UK than in the USA, although arguably nobody is doing it as 'well' as the South African's who happily promote their "medical safari's".
In recent years the development area has been in reproductive tourism and reproductive outsourcing i.e. traveling abroad to receive help in having a baby.
Generally Health Tourism is seen by the experts as being a destabilizing influence on both countries: taking revenues and skills from one, and encouraging cost cutting and use of less skilled resources in the other.
An interesting aside though is that with more people taking this approach the number of people looking to rent holiday homes for Health Tourism reasons has increased: to house a visiting family, for convalescence, and one suspects is very popular for those having undergone cosmetic surgery!
While our recent Market Trends Report didn't show any significant cases on Health Tourism it would be naive to underestimate the potential for the second property owner wanting to market their property for holiday rentals. For those that are close to hospitals, clinics and specialized medical centers there could well be a significant niche marketing opportunity worth exploiting.