On Tuesday stakeholders from the medical and tourism sectors met in Belize City to hash out the final details of the formation of the Belize Medical Tourism Association. It is the culmination of the promotional efforts of BELTRAIDE, the Trade and Investment Service to firmly ground medical tourism as an industry in Belize. Executive Director of BELTRAIDE, Nick Ruiz, tells us how the Association will operate.
Nicholas Ruiz – Executive Director of BELTRAIDE:
We envisioned them as partners, working with Government, working with BELTRADE, in positioning our medical tourism sector up there, being competitive, and a place to come and get medical treatment here in Belize. It’s very clearly stated in the document we’re putting forth, the articles of association, that we look forward to this partnership and working together with them, hearing the concerns, the interest in this sector. As you saw today, we had a very candid and very useful discussion. I can really see us sitting with the association, being part of the association, and moving forward in attracting investment to Belize. As you will see, on Thursday we’ll talk about the different incentives that would be available to companies that we want to set up, here in Belize in the medical tourism sector. So, all in all, I would look to a very vibrant partnership, inn attracting investment and developing our medical tourism sector.
Consultant and President of Costa Rica’s Medical Tourism Council, Massimo Manzi, led Tuesday’s discussions, where concerns were raised as to the balance of medicine and tourism in the finished product. He told us that cooperation is essential to the success of the trade and the Association.
Massimo Manzi – Consultant:
It could be a combination of main types of services, a medical or dental tourists, and a tourism service. Of course, I think we all agreed that the reason why persons living in the US or Canada have decided to travel to Belize to have surgery, they want to know what the clinics are offering, what are the requirements, and what are the experiences of the professionals. That’s the key. That’s the center. Once the client, the patient, has decided about having a surgery or dental treatment in Belize, then other factors are entering into action, and this is the key role that the tourism industry is playing, before and after the surgery.
On Thursday, the Association will be unveiled during the first Medical Tourism Forum. Special guests at that forum will include a speaker on accreditation to international associations for hospitals.