Dominica as a health tourism destination

Today the reality is the Banana industry and the entire Agricultural sector are on the brink of collapse in spite of recent efforts to resuscitate that sector. In light of these realities, another long term, sustainable and profitable industry – (possibly health tourism) – must quickly replace these former main-stay industries with sustainable solutions in order to provide hard needed and realizable cash flow to Dominica and its citizens.

As more people around the world take an active interest in their health, a travel segment known as health tourism has evolved to fill their needs. Not to be confused with medical tourism, which focuses more on surgical procedures, health tourism is a much broader concept centered mainly around resorts designed to pamper and improve the body and relax the mind.

While we must continue to explore and court external funding sources and investments, we must continue to ‘dip our buckets’ where we are and start taking greater advantage and leveraging our island home’s abundant opportunities and resources. But these options require careful and deliberate planning and focus investments.  With proper, long term and consistent planning, cooperation, commitment, political will and strong effective (less myopic) leadership, proper marketing and promotion, the development of Health Tourism can lead  to long term and sustainable developmental for our island home.

Today countries such as South Africa, Israel, Costa Rica and islands along the Mediterranean Sea and others, are using the unique attractiveness of their lands to lure health tourists from all over the world. A growing number of patients with deep pockets from affluent countries are searching for global destinations with natural alternative and non-invasive forms of medical and health treatments.

Affluent patients and patrons from North America, Europe and the Orient (baby-boomers) are constantly exploring ways to extend their lives and well-being. They are traveling to distant places for all sorts of natural therapeutic methods of health treatment to further extent their stay on earth. Some of these tried and true methods of healing and treatment modalities have been successfully used and embraced by ancient civilizations and traditional cultures for centuries.

Dominica is uniquely qualified to capitalize on this booming niche market of health tourism. But in order to have a fair chance of succeeding, a different way of thinking, marketing and acting on the part of those in government and the tourism industry must be exhibited. Government and the hotel industry must provide and facilitate avant-garde, competent, progressive (outside of the box thinking) and visionary leadership in order for this venture to succeed.

It is imperative that the government (of the day) works closely with the hotel, non-profit (NGOs) business, medical socieity, rural communities/councils and other groups to devise a carefully planned long-term strategic plan. Health tourism is a bit different from the other forms of tourism due to the fact that it is a form of tele-medicine and like conventional medicine; there are inherent ethical rules, codes of conduct, practice guidelines and patterns.

The medical community and the Ministries of Health, Education, Tourism, Agriculture and Division of Forestry should explore and continue to investigate the medicinal values of our natural resources such as the sulphur springs, boiling lake, hot Springs, waterfalls and tropical rain forests. The holistic healing powers of plants and herbs such as ‘bazalick,’ ‘seimeicountrar, (teas)’ ‘tabac zobie’ (jumbie’s tobacco) and others should be continuously promoted. Even the relaxing and therapeutic traditional music of the Dominican hills and valleys (Jing-Ping and Bel-la) should be promoted as healing dances similar to the music of great classical composers as Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Dominica as a Health Tourism destination has the very real potential of resulting in substantial financial returns in a few years if the proper investment and attention is given to this viable initiative. Health Tourism compliments Eco-Tourism in many ways –not just with its logo- ‘Defy the Everyday’, but in its inherent values and applications.  This can only be a win-win proposition for the Nature Isle of the Caribbean.

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24 Comments

  1. March 31, 2012

    Dominica is the perfect place for this. More and more people around the world are looking for a place to renew and refresh their spiritual understandings and health. However, there needs to be a major educational program for the people of Dominica, who are generally in-hospitable to people who do not believe the same way they do and who have a tendency to take advantage of anyone they deem an “easy target” for money, sex and things they can steal. This has got to change if an industry like this is to succeed in the long term. Being safe is a very real consideration for anyone planning to spend time in a foreign country for spiritual health reasons. Dominica has so much to offer, but the attitudes of the people must be honorable and kind. There is work to be done before this can become a reality. God Bless.

  2. anonymous2
    March 31, 2012

    When they ban the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides from this island, then you can concentrate on health resorts. People here are living shorter lives compared with 50 years ago.

  3. Dave thomas
    March 31, 2012

    Basic Health care first would be nice

  4. Francisco Telemaque
    March 30, 2012

    What is health tourism; is there even such a thing!

    In Dominica we like to get hooked on slogans, and all sorts of sweet sounding words which makes no sense, thus what we are reading here seems to be something of no significant value since we may not be able to define ” health tourism.”

    If we one reads the following by the time we are finish reading, we are more dumbfounded on the subject than when we began reading, check this out:

    The market

    The global economic downturn and medical tourism
    Forecasts for the global economy are not encouraging….recession in Europe, anaemic growth in the US and slow growth in the emerging market economies is anticipated for 2012 (Morgan Stanley: 2012 Outlook). If you are in the medical tourism sector, you need to understand some of the fundamental trends that affect businesses and markets in a recession.

    In the mature, developed economies (e.g. USA, Europe) continued unemployment and pressure on disposable income will influence demand in 2012. Consumers will minimise or reduce spending on healthcare where they can. This does not mean that hard pressed consumers will be flocking abroad for their operations to save money. Many will delay treatment, or in the case of “optional surgery” such as cosmetic surgery, they may not be able to afford it at all. Domestic prices for surgery will be driven down as hospitals apply marginal costing and prices to fill empty beds. In areas of treatment, where the need for treatment is “income-inelastic”, demand for medical tourism services will remain strong. Patients will continue to dig deep for services such as infertility treatment, stem cell treatment, and for surgery which is essential, life-saving or life changing.
    In emerging markets (such as Russia, China), the growth in incomes (and freedom to spend) is outstripping the development of domestic healthcare services and this may drive demand for medical tourism and present new opportunities.
    The big question is whether corporate or insurer paid medical travel will get off the ground in 2012. Will employers and insurers see medical travel as a realistic and credible option to reduce healthcare costs. And will their client and subscriber base actually “buy in” to the medical travel option if it is offered to them?

    Medical tourism….. global healthcare or regional medicine?
    In 2012, there’s a risk that we get distracted by the trumpeting of “global healthcare”. It’s a nice turn of phrase, but in the real world, medical tourism is about regional medicine and cross-border healthcare; this is not going to change in 2012. In fact, the boundaries of medical travel may be drawn in, as travel costs increase. As travel costs climb, the concept of long distance medical tourism becomes less attractive. The imposition of hefty departure taxes in countries such as the UK, Germany and elsewhere will reduce the cost advantages of some destinations.

    If you are in the medical tourism business, ALWAYS remember that, for most patients, going abroad for treatment is a decision of last resort. AND that the further a patient has to go… further from their own country….further from their own culture… the greater is the actual and perceived risk. The patient needing major surgery who takes a five hour flight to a country with a different language and a different culture is a comparative rarity.

    So is it medical tourism boom…. or bust?

    Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

    • forreal
      March 31, 2012

      telemaque,both of you guys are making references to two different forms of medical tourism,one speaks to natural medicine,the other speaks to scientific or operational medicine, in annalizing what is written by both of you guys,i see no agument,with the foremost there is a posibility there that can take shape,the latter is a scientific annalysis based on the US and european economic dilema,it’s true with the worseing economy in the US and europe,traveling for almost anything will be an uphill battle,especially for an operation,but bare in mind to travel to the caribbean for a soak in the sulfur spring,will not cost as much,as going to do a major surgery,so it seem to me we have a win win situation or a possibility rather.

  5. ideal
    March 30, 2012

    yes all this is good but with the resents attack on tourists we need to have better protection
    for the visitors to our beautiful nature island

  6. Aye Dominique
    March 30, 2012

    This has been something I’ve echoed over and over, no one seems to be listening, they busy trying to compete with Barbados and Jamaica with no white sand beach and under rated hotels.

    Government needs to encourage more boutique style hotels that are tied to some natural resource. Also, when we talk about health, we should not limit ourselves, we should open up to all aspects of medicine. Someone might be recuperating from an accident and need natural therapy but they may still be in need of some medical attention. This is why we need to address our health system, fix the damn hospital, get our doctors trained, get our hospitals equipped and get the health system where it needs to be. Health tourism most times needs the medical part of it to be successful.

    Great commentary.

  7. Law and order
    March 30, 2012

    That is the way for Dominca to go. Small cottage industry tourism. Health spas. Sort out the crime problem,and the drugs. Forget this war on drugs, that is a Reagan story to put black men in jail.
    Use our police to deal with local crime.

    • March 31, 2012

      Yes. It is not bogus and can build slowly. didn’t think of the inadequacies of our medical system. Tourists would probably choose to be airlifted to safe hospitals.
      Health is the wave of the future, water is the gold of the 21st century. We are poised on the precipice of success if we only act with good intentions.

  8. March 30, 2012

    I agree. We have to lessen the violence that is happening and widen our moral wisdom and acceptance of other peoples. If you build it, they will come. Hopefully that is true in Dominica as well as “Field of Dreams”

  9. dee
    March 30, 2012

    Well i agree that bananas may be dying, to say that the entire agricultural industry is in collapse is a fallacy… the agricultural sector, more particularly the non-banana sector fueled growth in Dominican economy… I would suggest tot he author of his piece to review the economic indicators of Dominica and see the performance of agriculture before belittling it with opinionated statements…

  10. Tiger
    March 30, 2012

    Before we even think of bringing more tourists into Dominica, we need to protect those who are there right now. We need to improve the security on the island.

    • anonymous2
      March 31, 2012

      Would you trade freedom for security? If you would, you will have neither. What is happening here, is happening world wide. There is no ‘safe’ place. Countries that have allowed their citizens to be armed have substantially lower crime, but that means people have to be trained and qualified in whatever firearm that they have. It also means that they have to have a secure place to keep it because the criminals will be after them.

      • April 2, 2012

        Education needs to be improved and accessible to a whole lot more people, if carrying a gun is allowed. Putting guns into the hands of uneducated people is asking for a whole lot of trouble. First of all, Children need to be encouraged and taught to THINK and not just to behave. Curiosity needs to be encouraged, so that young minds are exercised and able to make thoughtful decisions. Without a strong mind and the confidence to use it … having a gun is a huge mistake. Look at the Marigot Credit Union job … complete idiots with guns doing their dirty work around people who know them! DUMB and dangerous.

  11. Concerned
    March 30, 2012

    The crime problem, especially against tourists, need to be properly handled first; and that is not going to be done with community meeting talk shops I read the politicians, DHTA and others are doing.

  12. Way Out There
    March 30, 2012

    I love this article. It speaks to Dominica’s strong points. This would be a natural (no pun intended) fit, considering we have one of the largest number of centurians per capita.
    Hopefully, the higher ups take notice.

  13. country bookie
    March 30, 2012

    lol @johns,,, its a great idea,, great suggestion,,, and maybe u have been saying that long time , and no one heed u,,, but right now i think u r to forget the that u have been saying that long time and start to push foward more focefully right now,, because looks like other ppl r seeing what u were saying,,, so forget who said first and join on now…

  14. Anonymous
    March 30, 2012

    what’s healthy about being robbed and beaten

  15. Marigotian
    March 30, 2012

    Very true, this article is great. So So true…please take this on PM.

  16. A concern citizen
    March 30, 2012

    Great article. Food for thought. These are the kind of ideas we need in the Macro-economic planning unit of the Ministry Finance and Planning if one still exist in the Financial Centre. Mr. Finn must make these Brilliant Brain Storming Ideas available to the Macro-economic planning unit and to the Invest and Discover Dominica Office.
    Can you brain storm another idea base on a proposal for a fresh fruit/agro-processing plant for Dominica base on a joint venture between government and private sector, where the company will generate its own electricity like Colgate Palmolive so that the production cost will be less.

  17. Peeping Tom
    March 30, 2012

    Author: “Dominica as a Health Tourism destination has the very real potential of resulting in substantial financial returns in a few years if the proper investment and attention is given to this viable initiative.”

    I could not agree more. The idea has been discussed and bounced around but it seems stuck in the twilight zone.

  18. Country
    March 30, 2012

    This is all well and good, but getting hit over the head and robbed and or raped is very bad for your health. You need to sort that out first then it will be safe to visit.

  19. Pan African Muslim
    March 30, 2012

    Great suggestions from the author of the article.

    This is what we need as a people, the power to imagine, to invent ideas and get them rolling.

    Great minds discuss ideas
    Average minds discuss events
    Small minds discuss people. :-D

  20. March 30, 2012

    :mrgreen: long time we telling them dat we.

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