Grand Bahama seeing ‘significant’ interest in medical tourism


Tribune Freeport Reporter


THE Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) says it is “seeing significant investor interest” in Freeport’s medical tourism sector following its attendance at the World Medical Tourism Congress earlier this month in Florida.

This is the second year that the GBPA has participated in the event held in Orlando, Florida, hoping to capitalise on the $100 billion global medical tourism/health industry.

Due to the island’s proximity to North America, GBPA executives believe that Freeport is well positioned to capture a portion of the health tourism market.

The GBPA has been pursuing the medical tourism sector for several years.

Derek Newbold, GBPA senior manager of business development and a certified medical tourism professional (CMTP), attended the World Tourism Congress promoting Grand Bahama as a medical tourism destination. With more than 20,000 participants representing over 100 countries, the three-day event was well attended by persons in all sectors of the healthcare industry.

“As usual the event is always impressive,” said Mr Newbold. “With more than 40 million people in the US who are either uninsured or underinsured, Grand Bahama becomes a very viable option for high volume, low risk procedures offered at comparative quality levels, and at a cost savings benefit.”

“It is essential that we establish the necessary linkages throughout the industry to successfully develop and promote Grand Bahama as a viable jurisdiction for medical tourism related investments and services, including stem cell related therapies. This is why we have taken steps to become members of the Medical Tourism Association,” he said.

Last October, The Okyanos Stem Cell Therapy facility opened its $10m stem cell clinic in Freeport. The Grand Bahama Port Authority said government enacted landmark legislation which facilitated the launch of Okyanos, a project it was pleased to see come to fruition.

Ian Rolle, president of GBPA, believes that Okyanos could be a mere beginning of the role Freeport and Grand Bahama could play in such a lucrative industry.

“The Invest (in) Grand Bahama Unit has had an excellent opportunity to meet with a number of industry players who can support our efforts in developing a healthcare cluster and directing traffic to Grand Bahama to utilise new and existing healthcare facilities,” Mr Rolle said.

He noted that a recent report by the US Census Bureau revealed that by 2030, almost half of all Americans will be 50 years or older and more than six in every 10 ‘baby boomers’ will be suffering from multiple chronic conditions. Additionally, he said a recent gallop poll reflected that 29 per cent of Americans would consider traveling abroad for medical procedures such as heart bypass surgery, hip or knee replacement, plastic surgery, cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Mr Rolle noted that these statistics unveil a significant opportunity for Freeport.

“While we have achieved a small milestone in attracting a facility that can cater to the medical tourism sector of our economy, we still have some ways to go. In order for medical tourism to become a thriving industry in any jurisdiction it is critical to have participation from key stakeholders impacting the sector; this includes hospitals, clinics, government, tourism and other supporting sectors. This process has started, and GBPA will continue to work diligently to ensure its success in Freeport,” Mr Rolle said.


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