With more than 1.2 million visitors, Mexico is the main destination for medical tourists in the Americas and the second worldwide, only behind Thailand with almost 2 million. According to Deloitte, it is a market that generated 5.3 million dollars in the country in 2018, a figure that has almost doubled since 2014.
It is estimated that a medical tourist can leave an economic spill of up to 60 thousand dollars and his average stay is nine days, according to figures from the Yucatan Medical Cluster and the Mexican Council of Medical Tourism.
And now, Mérida, Yucatán wants to go for a ‘piece’ of that business. Although currently welcomes tourists both to receive medical treatment and to improve their health (wellness tourism), formally the region does not yet have a strategy to enhance its presence in this sector.
According to the Secretariat of Tourism Development SEFOTUR, state government authorities are currently working with the medical cluster of the state to develop a strategy on the subject. However, there is no precise record of the arrival of these tourists, as specialists and industrialists highlight the absence of a formal record of this activity.
One of the first challenges to position yourself in this sector is to have a strategy to promote this activity. Even more so if one considers that the main destination for this activity in the region is Cancún, according to Erik Bretschneider, director of Travle4Health.
“In the Yucatan Peninsula, where medical tourism also falls as the northern border strip naturally reaches Cancun, it is the jewel of the Caribbean,” said the academic from the Anahuac and Iberoamericana universities.
That destination has two of the seven hospitals with international certification from the Joint Commission of the United States, which validates the processes and allows foreign patients to use their insurance in their facilities.
In Merida, only two hospitals that are about to start operations expressed their interest in obtaining these certifications: Faro del Mayab and Eme Red, according to their own managers.
“Through the certifications we will be able to work with international insurers, which are part of the certainty that gives the patient or medical tourist, that they can use their insurance and not as now, you can really do medical tourism but you have to leave the patient’s bag, “said Juan Emanuel Ramírez, commercial director of the Faro del Mayab hospital.
The staff needs to be properly trained and fluid in English. The infrastructure in hotels in the city of Mérida needs to facilitate the stay of patients, especially foreigners.
The president of the Yucatan medical cluster, Rogelio Pérez Monsrreal, said that only five facilitators, 18 doctors and nine nurses with language skills are registered in the group.
“A key issue in this regard in the state of Yucatan is the language skills, if you are bringing patients from the United States and Canada, it is absolutely essential to strengthen the medical staff is bilingual or trilingual,” said Tere Solis, Industry Expert Tourism the consultant Deloitte.
Regarding infrastructure, the Sefotur explained that some hotels are already working on adapting their facilities to receive medical tourism patients.
“The big challenge that the city of Merida has right now in terms of Medical Tourism, is to be fully prepared in urban design, with access ramps for the people with disabilities, who are convalescing and for families and senior citizens, with the necessary air connectivity, land transportation, and urban mobility, “concluded Roberto Aguilera, health services partner of E & Y.
TYT Newsroom with information from El Financiero