Medical tourism market to reach $32.5 bn globally in 2019

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medical symbol

The global medical tourism market was valued at $10.5 billion in 2012 and is estimated to reach $32.5 billion in 2019, according to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research:  ‘Medical Tourism Market (India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, Turkey, South Korea, Costa Rica, Poland, Dubai and Philippines) – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013-2019‘.  The report cites rises in healthcare costs, long wait times, an ageing population, and increasing demand for cosmetic and dental surgery not covered by insurance in developed countries,  coupled with the availability of high quality, low cost medical services in developing countries for the rise.  Patients travelling abroad can save 30-90% on a procedure by travelling abroad.  With a rise in medical tourism will come an increasing need for accessible tourism, travel, and hospitality as patients who are temporarly disabled pre- or post-surgery recover from their procedures.


Costa Rica emerging as a leading medical tourism destination

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Map of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is emerging as a leading medical and health tourism destination writes Shannon Farley.  There are several reasons for this.  Firstly, medical treatments in Costa Rica are cheaper than elsewhere.  For example, they average 50% to 70% less than in the United States and Canada.  Secondly Americans, Canadians and most Europeans do not require an entrance visa for stays shorter than 90 days. Thirdly, there are high-quality medical services in the country.  Finally, Costa Rica is a very attractive tourist destination, with an established tourism infrastructure and plentiful international flights.

In 2011, 48,000 health tourists visited to Costa Rica, mostly from the United States and Canada in search of medical care in dentistry, orthopedics, plastic surgery, preventive medicine, Gynecology and Bariatric Surgery. Costa Rica is looking to boost its numbers to 100,000 medical tourists in 2014. The country hosted a national forum for health tourism, ExpoMED 2013, on October 29 2013 in San Jose, to establish standards and guidelines for international health tourism.

And Costa Rica is not alone. According to a Transparency Market Research report, the global medical tourism industry has become a $US$10.5 Billion industry based on the availability of high-quality medical services at reasonable rates in many developing countries.  It is expected to reach US$32.5 Billion in 2019.  One thing Costa Rica has going for it is that it is taking steps to improve tourism access for people with disabilities.  Better access is definitely something visitors recovering from medical procedures will appreciate.

Baby Boomers planning to travel extensively and/or live abroad

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Boomers taking photos

There is an increasing trend for retiring American Baby Boomers to travel and even live outside the USA.   “An innate curiosity and a genuine hunger for discovery push them to constantly enlarge their horizons towards places they hadn’t necessarily considered before, for holidays. Lands like Panama or Ecuador are becoming more and more a reality for those people whom not only feel inspired to travel, but have the desire to establish a new kind of existence elsewhere, far from what reminds them of the daily stress they’ve encountered during life,” writes Ombretta Di Dio in The Huffington Post.  Baby Boomers often return to previously-visited places in order to explore it in greater depth and be part of the “cultural scenario”.  They may travel alone or with grandchildren, and are attracted too by cheaper medical services abroad.  “It’s not a case that the tourism industry has created special targeted advertisements in order to attract Baby Boomers. That really shouldn’t come as a surprise: The Pew Research Center calculates Baby Boomers to be more than a quarter of the American population” continues Di Dio.  In the USA, roughly 10,000 Boomers will turn 65 today, and about 10,000 more will do so every day until 2030.

Baby Boomers to wield significant economic power in the next decade

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Group of Baby Boomers out for a walk

Australian trend forecaster  Bernard Salt  says Baby Boomers will wield significant economic power in the next decade and small businesses can prosper from their retirement (Travel Blog).  Mr Salt, a partner at KPMG, says an ”important transition” is taking place in which the baby boomer generation – born between 1946 and about 1966 – is reaching the official retirement age of 65.  This opens up new opportunities to service what Mr Salt calls ”the new narrative of life that will be lived between 55 and 72”.  In Australia alone, there are 4.5 million people passing through that phase over the next decade, whereas “previously there were barely 2.5 million people,” he says.  Baby boomers are ”intrinsically high consumers” compared with their ”frugal and modest” predecessors.

It’s an opportunity for businesses to determine what this group will want. ”It’s got to pitch to their needs; they’re not going to be hiking for five days to get to Machu Picchu, are they?”  Opportunities might be in areas such as over-60s travel, health and fitness, medical technology, succession planning (legal services, financial planning and conveyancing), or money-making volunteering enterprises.  “Boomers have big expectations in retirement, which I think is going to be a challenge for government and for big business” says Salt.

According to Mr Salt, businesses should reconsider their marketing strategies. Over-55s policies for example, which group baby boomers with 80-year-olds – people their parents’ age – are ”actually offensive”.

There are businesses starting up to cater to baby boomers.  For example, Fran Sirio, 54, launched Entice Travel Services in 2011, a boutique business focusing on over-55s.  The former national sales manager at Australian Pacific Touring travels overseas with her clients, acting as mobile concierge for people who don’t want to organise their travel.  It’s more time-consuming and demanding than a normal travel-guide gig, but Sirio prefers her cautious – though dependent – pleasure-seekers.  ”They’ve got the time, the money, the patience – they’re just lovely,” Ms Sirio says.   Ms Sirio says marketing to an age range that has vastly different skills and experiences is the most difficult aspect of her business.

Source:  Travel Blog

Medical tourism growing at annual rate of about 20% per annum

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Lights in an operating theatre

Latest estimates put the worldwide medical tourism market at anywhere between $40 billion and $60 billion in 2012, and with annual growth rates of about 20% a year, Professor Helmut Wachowiak (International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef – IUBH – Germany), told the recent ITB Berlin meeting.  One survey last year estimated that 3-4% of the world population already travels to foreign countries for medical treatment while the pent-up demand could be much larger with as many as 53% of Europeans saying they would travel abroad for treatment. A representative survey by the IUBH last year found that 52% of German adults could imagine travelling abroad for medical treatment, including dental treatment and surgery, mostly due to lower costs abroad or for treatment that is not available in Germany.

“The costs of health treatment and health insurance are rising in many countries and there can be long waiting lists. By travelling abroad, patients can often save time and money said Wachowiak. “The tourism industry has now discovered this new market segment and is expanding its range of products and services in response”, he said.  Looking ahead, Wachowiak predicted that medical tourism would continue to grow strongly in the years ahead due to the driving forces already mentioned. “The market will grow strongly, especially given the ageing population in developed economies,” he commented.

According to the International Tourism Consulting Group (IPK) World Travel Monitor, health and medical travel accounted for a total of 9.4 million trips in 2011, or 2.4% of all European outbound travel. Over the past five years, health vacations by Europeans have increased by 38% while medical tourism has gone up by 24%, the IPK research found.

It is obvious that with the rise in medical tourism, accessible tourism must continue to be developed.

Seniors offer huge nich-market potential for travel agents in Singapore

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Tourists having their photos taken in a park

The National Association of Travel Agents of Singapore (NATAS) has identified Asia’s ageing population as a key niche-markets that offer considerable business future potential for travel agents.      At an ITB-Asia conference attended by nearly 400 agents, Goh Chin Kwee (School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Temasek Polytechnic), discussed the “silver tsunami.”  Chin Kwee developed and delivers the main curriculum for the silver tourism specialization subjects. He is currently investigating silver tourism in Singapore, through a collaborative research  project between the Polytechnic  and NATAS. At the conference, he presented details of a pilot survey of Singapore’s ageing population and the opportunities this presents in line with a number of government policies being formulated to prepare for it. A full-fledged Centre for Ageing Studies has just opened at the Polytechnic to conduct further research.

Chin Kwee said that the pilot study showed that as Singapore’s population continues to age, silver tourism has the potential to develop into a top market for outbound travel companies.  “The segment of travellers between 50-59 years of age is the best group to target (for silver tourism). They are at the age bracket before the onset of illness and often have children who are of independent age of 18 years old or older” sais Chin Kwee. “For the older group of travellers between 65-74 years of age, they are willing to pay more for trained medical service support, despite being in the more price-sensitive segment (as retirees). A significant 85% would purchase fully arranged tour packages – the older they are, the higher the tendency.”  Chin Kwee also pointed out the trend of improving Internet literacy among these older travellers, who are becoming increasingly comfortable with online purchases. He added that inter-generational travel was more common among baby boomers in Asia.

More information at Travel Impact Newswire and at TTG Asia.

Two-volume publication on international accessible tourism includes New Zealand chapter

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Two new text books on accessible tourism are available through the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) from Channel View Publications. The first is “Concepts and Issues” (eds: Dimitrios Buhalis and Simon Darcy), which sets out to  explore and document the current theoretical approaches, foundations and issues  in the study of accessible tourism.  Professor Nigel Morgan, The Welsh Centre for Tourism Research states that this volume harnesses “the best conceptual  developments on the topic” and that it will “take accessible tourism and universal design debates into the mainstream of academic enquiryand industry practice“

The second volume is “Best Practice in Accessible Tourism” (eds: Buhalis, Darcy, and Ivor Ambrose).  It focuses on policy and best practice in accessible tourism, reflecting the ”state-of -the-art” as expressed in a selection of international chapters. It brings together global expertise in planning, design and management to inform and stimulate providers of travel, transport, accommodation, leisure and tourism services to serve guests with disabilities, seniors and the wider markets that require good accessibility. Chapter 8, written by Sandra Rhodda of Access Tourism New Zealand, describes the state of accessible tourism in this country.  Overall, the book gives ample evidence that accessible tourism organisations and destinations can expand their target markets as well as improve the quality of their service offering, leading to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and expansion of business.  Accessible tourism is not only about providing access to people with disabilities but also it addresses the creation of universally designed environments that can support people that may have temporary disabilities, families with young children, the ever increasing ageing population as well as creating a safer environment for employees to work. Noel Scott, of the University of Queensland, Australia says that the volume “provides a ‘state-of-the-art” assessment of both theory and practice. This book establishes a new field of study and provides the benchmark against which other contributions will be judged. It integrates the work of all the key players and should be read by academics, managers and government policy makers.”

Belgrade Hosts 3rd Conference on Accessible Tourism

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Serbia’s third conference on opportunities and challenges in accessible tourism for people with disabilities will be held in Belgrade, June 6-7, 2011.  The conference is being organised by the Tourist Club of the Association of Paraplegic and Quadriplegic “Dunav” Belgrade in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic and Regional Development.  It will focus on serving visitors with disabilities, especially in rural areas, and on improving profitability and sustainability in Access Tourism.  It will also focus on legislation and the development of accessible tourism in Serbia and throughout the European Union, information technology and universal design in accessible tourism, and accessible tourism in relation to mountain tourism, sport, health, spa, and wellness tourism.   Attendees are expected to include people from government, tourism associations and agencies, the transport sector,  academics, and the disabilities sector.

For more information visit Dunav or email

Call for Papers: Tourism, Leisure, Arts, Recreation, Sports, and Disability Inclusion

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The Annals of Leisure Research is seeking papers for a special issue that examines the inclusion and citizenship of people with disability in “cultural life” (recreation, leisure, the arts, sport, or tourism).  The purpose is to:

a)      clarify what the terms inclusion and citizenship mean in different cultures;

b)      to place inclusion and citizenship to ‘cultural life ‘(recreation, leisure, the arts, sport or tourism) across discourses relating to economic, social and environmental contexts that affect people with disabilities participation; and

c)       to discuss the terms inclusion and citizenship from the ideological frameworks of government, researchers, providers of service or disability advocacy groups.

Submissions are sought from the consumer (demand), providers (supply) and coordination/regulation (government) sector perspectives. The guest editors invite interested researchers to contribute theoretical, methodological or empirical papers related to the theme of this Special Issue. The topics of potential papers include but are not limited to:

  • The role of inclusion and citizenship in the construction of ‘cultural life'(recreation, leisure, the arts, sport or tourism) environments and experiences;
  • What is the impact of inclusion/exclusion on the person and their experiences?;
  • The social and/or cultural construction of inclusion in ‘cultural life'(recreation, leisure, the arts, sport or tourism) activities and experiences;
  • The role of inclusion in the construction of cultural, sub cultural and personal identities of different societies;
  • The role of inclusion in the construction and/or deconstruction of the intersection with gendered, ethnic and sexual identities within the experience of ‘cultural life'(recreation, leisure, the arts, sport or tourism);
  • How experiences of inclusion compare and contrast between different dimensions of disability (e.g. mobility, vision, hearing, cognitive, sensitivities etc.);
  • The impact of inclusion and citizenship within space and place making

Important Dates:

  • Abstract deadline: 30 June 2011 to Jerome(at)
  • Notification of acceptance of abstracts deadline: 1 August 2011
  • Submission for double-blind reviewing process: 30 November2011
  • Review Process Notification: 30 January  2012
  • Special issue publication: June or December 2012

For submission guidelines and more, continue reading……………..

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Call for Papers on Leisure, Health, and Disability

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World Leisure

The World Leisure Journal announces a special issue on Leisure, Health, and Disability aimed at a wide range of topics. Empirical research (both qualitative and quantitative), systematic reviews, scholarly descriptions, brief reports, and book reviews are invited.

Sample topics may include:

  •  Models of disablement and their implications for leisure and health research
  • Intersections of aging and disability
  • Disability demographics and statistics as they apply to leisure behavior and services
  • World Health Organization’s ICF and its implications for leisure and health services
  • Research on service provision for individuals with disabilities (including therapeutic
  • recreation)
  • Policy and systemic issues relating to disability, health, and leisure
  • Medical and health-related travel and tourism
  • Accessible travel and tourism
  • Trends and issues in leisure and health service provision for individuals with disabilities
  • Research and service gaps in leisure and health for individuals with disabilities
  • New methodologies for researching leisure, health, and disability phenomena
  • Technology’s impact on the equalization of opportunities for those with disabilities

 For more information, continue reading……………….

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Ageing Asia Investment Forum, April in Singapore

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Ageing Asia Investment Forum

The second series of the annual CEO-level conference, Ageing Asia Investment Forum (AAIF) will be the first conference in Asia focused on healthcare and ageing well for Asia’s ageing baby boomers.  By 2050, the number of people in Asia above 60 years of age is expected to be 1.2 billion, four times higher than in Europe and the United States, combined. In Asia-Pacific, baby boomer (born between 1946 and 1965) consumers control and an estimated wealth of US$11 trillion.

AAIF will be held in Singapore from 4 – 6 April at Pan Pacific Hotel.   Focused on the business of enabling healthy ageing, 40 CEOs from over 12 countries will discuss investment and collaboration opportunities for Asia’s emerging silver industry.  Over 200 international top business, government and not-for-profit leaders from various major baby boomer and ageing markets will attend the forum.  An international panel of speakers form Asia’s fastest ageing markets – including Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore will present and discuss:

  • Health tourism
  • Successful Japanese business models in accessing the ageing market
  • industry collaboration and PPP investment opportunities in ageing Asia
  • Asian healthcare groups strategies on longevity, preventive health, wellness, seniors housing and step-down care
  • Identifying seniors’ living solutions for Asia: ageing-in-place versus retirement communities

Training in Access Tourism in UNC Tourism Management Programme

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The University of North Carolina Wilmington has included Access Tourism in their Recreation, Sports Leadership and Tourism Management programme.  Last summer participants in the course  also spent two weeks in Italy learning about health and medical tourism. They studied how accessible tourist attractions were to people of all types, including those with physical disabilities. They learned about the planning that goes into determining widths of doorways, for example, said Nancy Hritz, a professor at the university.


With Two Weeks To Go Before First Boomer Turns 65, Medical Tourism on the Rise

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Happy Birthday

The first Baby Boomers turn 65 in just two weeks.  In the USA alone, 12,000 people a day will have a 65th birthday, and this will continue for the next 20 years.   According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), countries around the world are starting to strategically plan for aging Boomers who seek the best health products and services by creating state-of-the-art medical facilities.   Germany is currently seen as one of the best destinations for medical tourism and the Oetker Hotel Collection is now developing luxurious accommodations for foreign patients.  Some reports have estimated that there are around three million patients traveling abroad for treatment each year and almost one-fifth are from the Middle East.

“We are the first grand hotels in Germany, if not in Europe, to provide a so-called medical spa and continue our tradition with contemporary means, which differentiates us from other competitors,” Samir Daqqaq, senior vice president for developmen told the news provider quoted by AARP.   He also explained that the hotels are targeting patients who are looking for the best services, rather than the most affordable. While Germany can’t compete with the cheap procedures offered by countries such as India and Thailand, it does offer some of the most advanced treatments in the world.  Daqqaq estimated that 40 percent of patients are looking for advanced technology, while only 9 percent are trying to find lower costs.  He also commented on the impact that retiring baby boomers will have as they start to travel more.

“The boomers will… be a source market for the global tourism industry for several decades and will have the biggest impact when the latter part of the group retires around 2024.” 

Continue reading……………………………

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New Research Programme Area in Access Tourism at NZTRI/AUT a First for NZ

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In a first for New Zealand, The New Zealand Tourism Research Institute at Auckland University of Technology has created a Research Programme Area in Access Tourism headed by Sandra Rhodda. 

 NZTRI’s Access Tourism programme aims to research and develop Access Tourism in NZ.  Access Tourism is tourism, travel, and hospitality for people with permanent or temporary disabilities, seniors, parents with strollers, and any person with a need for improved access.  This is an interdisciplinary research area that addresses the challenges and opportunities presented by Access Tourism.

The Access Tourist already represents a sizeable proportion of our tourism markets.  Between 17 and 20% of the population in our main markets already report a disability, and this percentage is bound to grow because the large Baby Boomer cohort is ageing and disability increases with age.  Those aged 45 or older already comprise almost half of our domestic and international visitors (and over 70% of our cruise ship visitors).

Areas of interest include:

  • Research and policy development
  • Understanding the Access Tourism market
  • Awareness promotion and education of government and industry to the potential of Access Tourism
  • Access Tourism product development and marketing in NZ
  • Promotion of cooperation in a developing Access Tourism sector, including in the public and private sector
  • Access Tourist satisfaction and motivation
  • Economic and social benefits of Access Tourism
  • Access Tourism as an important factor in tourism sustainability
  • Relationship of Access tourism to Health, Wellness, and Medical Tourism
  • Opportunities for Access Tourism legacy development around major events such as RWC2011

Medical Tourism on the Rise Worldwide

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Medical Tourism

The International Business Times reports that eight-to-ten years ago, medical tourism was hardly large enough to be noticed. Today, more than 200,000 patients per year visit Singapore alone and nearly half of them are from the Middle East (source: Travel Memo).  This year, approximately half-a-million foreign patients are expected to travel to India for medical care, up from 150,000 in 2002. Factors that have accelerated medical tourism include the high cost of health care, long wait times for some procedures, the ease and affordability of international travel, and improvements in both technology and standards of care in many countries (Travel Memo). 

An Australian report just out (Health Tourism in Australia: Supply, Demand and Opportunities) presents a detailed examination of health and wellness tourism in that country.   The research suggests that Australia would benefit from developing niche medical tourism offerings based on Australian medical strengths/expertise.  Meanwhile, New Zealand continues to lag in even considering the development

Podcasts of the Access Tourism NZ Conference Presentations Now Available

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NZTRI staff at the conference

Podcasts of the presentations made at the inaugural Access Tourism New Zealand conference held in Auckland yesterday are now availabe on the NZ Tourism Research Institute website.  Presentations include those made by Sandra Rhodda, Director of Access Toruism NZ (talking about Access Tourism and New Zealand), Minnie Baragwanath(Access Tourism in Auckland), Diana Palmer (World Access Tourism), Bill Forrester (Inbound Tourism and Access Tourism), Mary Schnackenberg (The tourist with vision disabilites), Chris Peters (Tourism and the deaf or hard of hearing), Alexia Pickering (A wheelchair users experiences), Kathy Olsen (Accessible websites and information), Chris Ross (Transport and the disabled), and Auckland Disability Law (Legal aspects of Access Tourism).

New Health Traveller Blog Launched

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Heart Health - Public Domain

It is estimated that by the end of 2010, more than 400,000 Americans will use treatment abroad for a variety of health needs (Travel Impact Newswire).   Recently, a health traveller blog was launched which includes forums where consumers of Medical Tourism can have their say.  The Health Traveller website hopes to help consumers make informed choices when they are contemplating medical or health treatment abroad.  It points out that – while not yet mainstream – travelling overseas for medical treatment is not new. In ancient Roman times documented cases of people travelling comparatively vast distances to locations of health were not uncommon. What is new is that the major reason Americans are travelling overseas is that the high cost of elective, non-acute medical procedures is making such procedures inaccessible at home in the US. 

The list of medical travel destinations is growing rapidly. In terms of overseas visitor numbers it is difficult to get a good estimate for each country.  While there are currently more than 130 countries that want to offer options for treatment abroad, the locations currently most sought out by U.S. health travellers include such locales as India, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica and Singapore.  Certainly, medical tourism is not as well developed in New Zealand as it could be and we are – to our detriment – trailing our tourism rivals in developing this industry (Access Tourism NZ, 16 August 2010). In its broadest sense, many patients often view treatment abroad as an opportunity to address health conditions while seeing the world (The Health Traveller).  For this reason, it is imperative that Access Tourism be developed alongside medical tourism, as has pointed out on this website many times before.

Indian Medical Tourism Expands While NZ Stagnates

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Public Domain Image

Indian hospital operator Fortis Healthcare has agreed to purchase a 23.9% (US$687 million) stake in Singapore-based Parkway Holdings.  This could lead to a major shakeup in the global health-care industry. So writes Bruce Einhorn in the Bloomberg Business Week.  Medical Tourism, which occurs when a person leaves their own country to seek medical treatment in another country, is a growing trend.  Nearly 150,000 Americans travelled abroad in 2007 for international medical care, and numbers drastically increased throughout 2008 and 2009.  Such treatment could be cosmetic or health related.  In Asia, Singapore has the best reputation for doctors and hospitals, and Parkway is well regarded.  India has for some time now had ambitions to be a major player in the medical tourism market and its hospitals are generally much less expensive than those in Singapore or other medical-tourism destinations such as Thailand or the Philippines. For instance, a hip replacement that costs $43,000 in the U.S. could cost $12,000 in Singapore and just $9,000 in India, writes Einhorn. Single heart bypass surgery, depending on severity, may cost an average of $25,000 to $40,000 in the United States, while an individual travelling to destinations such as India may receive such care for approximately $10,000.   By buying the Parkway stake, Fortis has now positioned itself to become the regional leader in Medical Tourism.  There will be a strong presence in India, where Fortis has 46 hospitals  for the most price-sensitive patients, and a new base in Singapore for higher-end customers aiming for more luxury.

New Zealand is missing out on Medical Tourism as there seems little government resolve in developing this market.  In fact, the most recent Ministry of Tourism figures for medical visits to NZ show that such visits have remained at around 0.01% of our total visitor count for the last seven years.  Our neighbours, Australia, held their first Health and Wellness Tourism conference in September 2009.   At that conference, it was discussed how Health and Wellness tourism is estimated to be worth in excess of US$1 trillion and is one of the fastest-growing drivers in the travel industry.  Ruth Grau, Springboard Vacations USA and Medtral NZ has stated that New Zealand has a potential of 2000 medical tourists a year ( Inside Tourism 742, June 19, 2009), and explains why New Zealand is attractive to medical tourists.   In addition, Dr. Hans Raetz, who is involved in the development of a Southern Cross private hospital in New Zealand tourism hotspot Queenstown says that there is a real possibility for medical tourism at the resort (Travel Memo 24 March 2009).  In fact, the Tourism Industry Association of New Zealand, in its brief to the incoming Minister of Tourism in December 2008, stated that the “wellness market (has) the potential to attract high value visitors and would benefit from target marketing’.  Meanwhile, Medical Tourism “has not been something that has been considered’, according to Associate Minister of Tourism Jonathan Coleman (Inside Tourism 742, June 19, 2009)

Global Medical Tourism Expo and Congress in Mexico, August 24-26

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A Global Medical Tourism Expo and Congress in Peuerto Vallarta Mexico will look at the trends and opportunities offered by the Medical Tourism in Mexico.  Medical Tourism is the largest growth sector within the area of health services industries.   Attendees will include representatives from Mexico’s Tourism Bureau, state Tourism Bureaus, the Ministry of Tourism, universities, tourism developers, tourism businesses, hospitals, clinics, and medical associations.   Thousands of US, Canadians, and Europeans already travel to Latin America countries searching for cheaper drugs and medical treatments, including  stem cells implants, plastic surgery, heart surgery, dental implants, alternative treatments, and medical and wellness spas.  US citizens alone spent US$20b on medical tourism in 2008, and this is expected to rise to US$79.5b by 2017.  US insurance companies are fostering strategic alliances with out-of-country hospitals because it is cheaper for them to send their clients abroad for treatment than to pay for the same treatment to be done in the US.  The stay of a foreign patient includes on average 1 to 4 weeks for recovery, so that access issues will need to be addressed.

Boomers Expected to Drive “Explosive Growth” in Bird Watching Over Two Decades

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Peter Dunne, director of the Cape May Bird Observatory in New Jersey predicts a 15-20 year boom in bird watching driven by Baby Boomers becoming increasingly interested in the hobby.  Dunne runs introductory courses in bird watching and says that to a man or women, their stories are all the same: “I just retired and I – or we –  are looking for something to do, and birding fits the bill.”  He predicts that birding’s popularity is exploding and will continue to explode as Boomers age, and notes that a lot of tourist locations are chasing this fast-growing market.  For tourism marketers, this is a valuable demographic. An estimated 47.7 million birders in the United States spent about $45.7 billion on wildlife-watching in 2006, reports Richard Aiken, a natural resources economist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who studies the economic value of wildlife-related recreation.