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Dec 6, 2011

Medical Tourism in Belize a reality

Mike Singh

Belize has gained a reputation for environmental tourism. That landscape has been changing and on a smaller scale, the country is also gaining reputation for medical tourism.  Medical tourism is sought out particularly by Americans who want to complete medical procedures at an affordable price. For some time there has been speculation among the medical profession that this type of tourism would be formally introduced. Well, it seems that it’s now about to become a reality. The policies are currently being drafted and will open up the market to new medical facilities that may offer health care exclusively to foreigners. It was one of many topics discussed earlier today at a forum spearheaded by the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Mike Singh, Exec. Chairman of BELTRAIDE/ Board Member of CEDA

“There was some discussion today as a matter of fact, I made a comment; we had Doctor Elsworth Grant, who runs the oncology center in Dangriga was here throughout the session and he was very interested in seeing how he can expand what he is doing, which is really a charity service to looking at it as a means to bring in patients to take advantage of what he’s doing. In Belize, I know we are now working on a medical tourism policy because I’m participating in it. There is more and more inquiries coming in from medical professionals from abroad that are interested in setting up facilities; I know in Belize and in the rest of the Caribbean as well. It is an area that goes well with tourism; it is an area that with rising health cost in the U.S. makes it very attractive for a short flight to save a lot of money. In Belize in particular we get quite a few visitors that come in just for dental work off the cruise ships and also that fly in. it’s an area that has quite a huge scope for development we think.”

Jose Sanchez

“But that also means including the local facilities,; it won’t something exclusive for just those who intend to set up shop here right?”

Mike Singh

“Well actually the policy we are working on which Beltraide is very instrumental in helping with is to offer an incentive package that has two tiers: one is an incentive for existing operators that would be rewarded for bringing in non-resident patients and we are still toying with the idea of waiving things like business tax for revenue earned from non-resident patients and also allowing them import fiscal incentives for import of equipment to service those patients. And we are looking for a much bigger incentive package for those that want to establish exclusive hospitals only for non-residents. So there are two tiers. And we are in the process of building that now and it should be launched in the next two to three weeks; it should be ready for discussion and publication.”

Jose Sanchez

“You do expect it to receive opposition from local hospitals who do depend on some medical tourism as part of their income?”

Mike Singh

“Well we are hoping that it would encourage them to do more because the business they do now, they don’t get the tax breaks that we will offer. So I do believe that there should be a synergy and I was very clear that we couldn’t offer an incentive to purely foreign operators without offering equal or better incentives to our locals. And we’ve had some discussions with the medical association and I think they are on board with us with the program that we intend to roll out because it does give a reward for even an individual doctor who wants to target foreign patients so that he can get a tax break for the business he brings in.”

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1 Response for “Medical Tourism in Belize a reality”

  1. Storm says:

    Generally a good idea — we need all sorts of new foreign investment, non-traditional industries.

    Certainly, wealthy foreigners already go to hospitals around the world to get affordable health-care, why not here? And maybe it will open up a need for Belizean nurses and other medical assistants, jobs that we can use to build a brighter future..

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