Before the massive vaccination campaigns began in our country, many Mexicans traveled to the United States in search of a vaccine against Covid-19, with the consequent payment of thousands of pesos to obtain their two doses of vaccine, stimulating a modest recovery in airlines and travel agencies. The Federal Ministry of Tourism placed great expectations on the growth of Medical Tourism in the country, which for several years has been positioning and consolidating itself as a relevant subsector to attract foreign tourists.
Health Tourism is an economic activity that has grown by leaps and bounds internationally, generating the mobilization of thousands of people from developed countries to developing countries. A curious fact is that, until a few years ago, the flow of people seeking quality medicine abroad was in the opposite direction, from developing countries to the most advanced ones. Today, it is a practice that is being carried out in various parts of the world with great success. There are already 46 countries that stand out internationally in the provision of medical services to foreigners, according to the Medical Tourism Index 2020-21, and among them is Mexico.
Mexico has great competitive advantages in terms of health services and care, since it has state-of-the-art hospitals and clinics, top-level tourist infrastructure, geographic proximity to the United States —where the largest number of patients come from—, very affordable prices. below those of the neighbor to the north and shorter waiting times, in addition to quality, warmth and professionalism. Mexico is well above the OECD countries with 63.4% of specialist doctors who offer their services, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The main foreign applicants for medical services are from the states of California, Arizona and Texas, in the United States. In addition, patients from Canada and the United Kingdom are very attracted to services in our country, according to the Undersecretariat of Planning and Tourism Policy.
The Medical Tourism Association points out that surgical interventions and medical treatments in our country, in specialties such as cardiology, plastic surgery, ophthalmology, dentistry and oncology, among others, are between 40% and 80% cheaper than in the United States, from where 80% of the tourists who travel to Mexico for health reasons come from it.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) establishes that the export of a service exists when the payment for it is made by a resident of another country. And define these three categories:
Health tourism: is the process of leaving the country or state of residence to receive treatment and care abroad.
Medical tourism: surgical procedures and drug treatments; outpatient processes (dental, ophthalmological and some cosmetics).
Wellness tourism: activities aimed at relaxation, lifestyle changes, spas, spiritual retreats, retirement homes and assistance for the elderly, among others.
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