Medical tourism ripe for growth
Aspects of the medical tourism industry in Barbados are ripe for expansion, says Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Noting that the Ministries of Health and Tourism were advocates of medical tourism, Stuart said Government considered the industry to be lucrative with several advantages for the international business sector.
The Prime Minister made the comments today at the opening of the International Business Week 2015 conference.
He said a 2012 study entitled An Overview of Barbados’ Medical Tourism Industry had identified a number of successful medical tourism facilities in Barbados, including the Barbados Fertility Centre.
“Another related area ripe for investment is that of biotechnology, a rapidly emerging global industry,” said Stuart, while highlighting Lenstec Inc, a successful locally-based global manufacturer of intraocular lenses for cataract and refractive surgery.
“In 1995, this US-owned company opened its first manufacturing facility here. Now a 30,000 square foot plant, the company employs approximately 200 persons, several of whom were trained right here at the University of the West Indies, graduating with degrees in science and other disciplines. Lenstec is now one of our leading exporters, with Japan and China as primary markets,” said Stuart.
He said another niche that was suitable for expansion was medical schools, hailing the American University of Barbados as a success stories.
“It is an institution that is changing the thinking of future health care providers, all from Barbados,” he said.
“Let us accept and embrace the linkage of international business and tourism; international business and health; international business and education; international business and the cultural industries, and the list goes on for the areas in which we have a competitive advantage. The forward and backward linkages are inextricable,” Stuart told the room of international business officials.
The theme of the two-day conference, at which participants will discuss a range of matters including health related issues is, The Changing Dynamics: Driving Innovation, Prosperity and Health.
Sector officials are also expected to share ideas while networking and discussing new opportunities for the sector.
Giving policymakers, facilitators, practitioners and all stakeholders credit for the success of the international business and financial services sector, Stuart told the conference participants that while they have been doing “a relatively commendable job so far”, they should keep striving for excellence.