Medical tourism emerges as economic engine for Yucatan

Dr. José Enrique Guerra. (PHOTO: Brenda Carrion)

Medical tourism is developing into an important economic engine in Yucatan, and three experts on this phenomenon participated in a discussion Thursday June 30 in Merida.

The participants were Dr. José Enrique Guerra, a leading medical facilitator and owner of Yucatan Medical Services, Irak Greene, director of tourism business development with Yucatan’s Secretariat of Tourism Development (SEFOTUR), and José Urioste, editorial director of The Yucatan Times.

Attending the event at Hennessey’s Irish Pub on Paseo de Montejo were about 20 local medical doctors and dentists, including surgeons, opthamologists and other specialists.

Greene noted that about 7 million people travel annually outside their home country for medical treatment. For residents of the U.S. and Canada, Mexico is the leading destination, mainly because treatments are cheaper. For U.S. residents, the costs average 30 percent less than in their home country, he said.

Greene said SEFOTUR’s dedicated medical tourism website,, has received more than 20 million visits, with 70 percent of visitors seeking information in English.

Guerra said Yucatan Medical Services, now in its fourth year, has helped more than 200 foreign patients find and arrange medical treatment in Yucatan. Offering “medical concierge” services, YMS provides 24-hour on-call referalls to a private network of medical and dental specialists.

Urioste said since he took over the The Yucatan Times four years ago, he has studied the shift of migration patterns between Mexico and its northern neighbors, with many U.S. and Canadian citizens now migrating south to become temporary or permanent residents of Mexico.

Greene said The Yucatan Times, the leading English language news website covering the Peninsula, has become an important partner for SEFOTUR in promoting medical tourism, through its news coverage and advertorial articles on the subject.

By Robert Adams for TYT