Much of what you've heard or read about the medical tourism business on the internet has been published by report sellers and conference organizers. Few of the statistics quoted have been independently verified because of the privacy and confidentiality of medical information. Few countries have "medical treatment visas" and even if the enumeration methods were set to count arrivals and departures and length of stay, that barely touches the surface of the data required to "measure the addressable market" or its growth.
Still, we know that in certain destinations, health and wellness tourism thrive and add value to the local, regional and national economy. Health and wellness tourism contribute to the local, regional and national economy when there's a way to coordinate growth, activate the tax-paying private sector for health services and operations are transparent and monitored to be able to collect the taxes and use them to operate a centralized, public-private health tourism organism that acts as collaborator, call center, data gatherer, analyst, regulatory body, and clean-agency reporter.
Professionally-organized marketing of health tourism services is necessary to increase visitation and tourism revenues. While the individual providers have the power and responsibility to market their services, a centralized, public-private health tourism organism can be designated the authority to better decide the best media, best messaging, destination theme, and best targeted markets to motivate more people to visit and/or return to explore the destination as a medical, dental or wellness visitor. The same organism, whether dubbed a "cluster", "hub" or public-private partnership management services organization can also advocate for longer trips (4x-12x) that add to lodging and general tourism revenues.
Domestic and international spending on medical and dental travel includes people who drive several hours to access care spend at least one night away, and drive several hours back to their hometown.
Around the world, the diverse health travel and tourism industry generates jobs and income for local residents and produces tax revenue for the region. Domestic and international health travel and tourism visitors are drawn to high-specialized health services outlets in the public, private and academic medicine categories where they can also avail of local and regional natural, cultural and historical assets. Whether your location is rural or urban, developed or developing, some unique destination theme can be assembled from the local assets, events, festivals, meetings, conventions, trade shows, and independent business and leisure travelers to add health and wellness tourism to your mix.
But not every destination that wants to enter medical or dental tourism will thrive. Proximity to airports, flight arrival and departure frequency, itinerary simplicity, safety, security, infrastructure, and established destination attractiveness are as critical to success as having a competent and trusted medical or dental treatment infrastructure. Merely having doctors, dentists, and surgical or diagnostic and treatment facilities with excess capacity won't produce desired results.
Does your location hold well-attended athletic events, meetings, conventions and trade shows that attract visitors, athletes, performers and business travelers from outside your region? Determining basic information about where they originated, why they came, what they spent, what they bought, and how to get them to return and spend more on local goods and services is the key to building the core health and wellness tourism strategy in the absence of independently verified published statistics that enumerate medical and dental tourism business growth and intentions.