Cayman Islands Director of Tourism Shomari Scott explains the concept of medical tourism and how it might benefit the Cayman Islands.
Who does medical tourism target, and why do they travel rather than get healthcare in their home country?
Medical tourism is attractive to persons thinking of, or requiring, medical treatment that for a number of reasons, such as cost, wait list, expertise, is either not available in the home country or not covered by the individual’s medical insurance plan. Although the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism’s primary focus is to promote leisure travel, we recognize that Health City Cayman Islands will add another dimension to our destination which aligns with the Cayman Islands brand values of leadership, innovation and quality.
As such, we have an opportunity to highlight these aspects of Health City Cayman Islands and at the same time, showcase the Cayman Islands as a first class destination and an important player on the world stage.
How would Cayman compete with nations like Cuba, or even some central American nations that have high quality, inexpensive healthcare?
There are as number of ways in which the Cayman Islands is able to successfully compete with other established medical tourism destinations. Cayman will also be offering high quality, inexpensive healthcare at the Health City Cayman Islands facility; our proximity to the USA makes Cayman highly desirable and convenient to U.S. travelers; Cayman is politically stable and English-speaking, which adds to our appeal from a medical tourism perspective; treatment at the Health City Cayman Islands facility will be world-class, which is an important consideration to prospective patients, and the equipment at the facility is expected to be state of the art; in previous interviews, Dr. Shetty has estimated the Cayman facility will draw 50 percent of its patients from the United States.
Is there a Department of Tourism strategy to take advantage of the Shetty hospital. What does that involve?
The DOT will not be developing a strategy to market the Shetty Hospital, but rather, we will continue to market the Cayman Islands as a destination where all visitors can expect world- class facilities and services during their stay.
Health City is an example of that offering in our destination, and conversations have started to ensure that the department works alongside Health City representatives to ensure that any tourism connections are appropriately explored.
The DOT will also be working with tourism industry stakeholders to ensure that from an industry perspective, we keep abreast of the Health City development and the opportunities it creates or delivers for the tourism industry. We would also be keen to ensure that those accompanying the patients also have a great experience in order extend our exposure through word of mouth recommendations, and to encourage repeat visitation purely for leisure purposes in the future.
Are there any other spin-off benefits for the overall tourism product?
Yes. Patients will typically travel with at least one caregiver and or other family members. During their stay on Island, these persons will require accommodation, and will also be eating at restaurants, shopping, taking tours and visiting attractions. Patients who already come to the Cayman Islands for elective procedures often chose this destination so that they can remain on island following their procedure and enjoy a relaxing vacation while recuperating.