Caribbean Destination’s Tourism Competitiveness Under Review

Amidst the world economic crisis, the previously obscure term, competitiveness, has become a mainstream word. Which is not surprising, because in times like these, consumers naturally become more cost-conscious.Ask any tourist what makes a destination competitive and they will probably come up with something like “being a good value” – in other words, providing a satisfactory travel experience for a fair price.But for tourism industry professionals, it’s not quite so simple. For a tourist destination to be competitive, they maintain, it must first be sustainable. And sustainability goes far beyond satisfying the tourists to insure that they keep coming back. A sustainable destination must satisfy many other stakeholders, including the local community, the environment, the hoteliers, the service providers and the government.With 4 million air arrivals per year, half a million cruise ship visitors and over 60,000 hotel rooms – the Dominican Republic is the leading island destination in the Caribbean.As such, it might be assumed to have a competitive tourist industry. But the local leaders are not taking this for granted. In fact, they have created a wide network of regional tourism clusters whose job it is to identify the constraints that may compromise the long term development of the industry, and to work with the government and the local communities to implement possible solutions.

The nine existing tourism clusters – a few more are being formed — are grouped under the Dominican Federation for Tourism Competitiveness (whose Spanish acronym is CDCT), headed by hotelier, Mr. Rafael Collado.In his welcome speech at the recent Dominican Tourism Competitiveness Forum (FODATUR) held in the nation’s capital, Mr. Collado alluded to the challenges being faced by the country’s tourism industry, stressing that while some of them – like the state of the global economy and volatility in oil and commodity prices – are beyond its control, others are entirely manageable, and it was the event’s goal to put them on the agenda and map out a realistic action plan.The event, which lasted for two days, gathered over a dozen of the most brilliant minds in tourism from Latin America, Spain and the USA, in addition to the Dominican Republic. A sizable group of industry professionals, hoteliers, travel agents, lawyers, consultants and public officials attended.On the subject of competitiveness indicators, the delegate from the University of Monterrey, Mexico, explained his country’s highly sophisticated method of assessment. A territory’s tourism competitiveness – relative to other territories – is measured by giving numerical values to a wide number of variables.The methodology is so thorough that it covers 112 different variables grouped into 10 categories: cultural activities and resources, natural resources and protection of the environment, human resources and education, hotel industry infrastructure and professionalization, tourist flows and means of transportation, tourism support services, public safety and protection, profitability and economic aspects, tourism promotion, and governmental support and efficiency.The CDCT vowed to seek support for the development of a similar evaluation tool in the Dominican Republic.It was pointed out, furthermore, that one of the nation’s challenges is the lack of a modern tourism law. A new bill that would put the D.R. on par with other Latin American countries had recently been drafted and delivered to the Minister of Tourism by a committee headed by the tour operators association. In a joint declaration, the participants urged the Minister to give the bill his full support and submit it to Congress without delay.

Yet another highlight were the concurrent workshops, where the group was split into round tables to discuss the main issues on the tourism competitiveness agenda and to suggest solutions. Topics included: environment, hotels, airlines, ocean travel, health and safety, tour guides, education, marketing and tourism clusters, among others.Each table was headed by an authority on the subject matter. Many new ideas emerged, and the CDCT made a commitment to discuss the conclusions with the competent authorities, reach agreements, and monitor their implementation.The annual event was sponsored by various public and private sector organizations and businesses, primarily the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which has been the main catalyst behind the creation and development of the cluster concept in the Dominican Republic.

Information Regarding Medical Tourism

The term Medical Tourism was initially coined by travel agencies for describing the practice of traveling abroad for medical treatment. This was done for obtaining the best and reasonable health care services outside the country. The services that are generally arranged by the professional agencies include complex professional surgeries like dental surgery, cosmetic surgery, cardiac surgery, joint replacement (knee/hip) and more. One can also directly contact the respective hospitals in countries like India, Mexico and Costa Rica for information through websites and respective medical center councilors. The patient has to provide their medical report to the service provider including the nature of illness, doctor’s opinion, diagnosis and complete medical history.

Certified medical consultants and doctors give their advice on the required treatment. The whole process of medical tourism includes the discussion of approximate expenditure, hospital choice, the tourist destination as well as the duration of their stay. Once the agreement and consent bond gets signed, the patient is provided with the recommendation letter to get a medical VISA. The patient has to procure it from the associated embassy. A case executive is always available with the patient to take care of the accommodation, and his treatment abroad. The health tourism is getting popular day by day due to several other reasons like long waiting list and expensive treatments.People of United States make the most out of this facility. The very first reason behind the increasing trend of medical tourism is its incredible savings. Depending upon the destination, the patient can expect to save a high percentage. Access to immediate excellent medical service and no waiting list is another wonderful benefit. The medical travel agencies commit to provide the quality treatment abroad. Several organizations come forward for this purpose. Most of these agencies and consultants are registered with world Medical Tourism Association. The patients have access to expert surgeons and latest technologies through the health tourism options. Other notable features adding into the popularity of this tourism service are longer hospital stay, convenience and travel opportunities at a very low cost.

For most of the Americans, minimal price is the main advantage of availing the medical tourism facilities. It is a fact that the USA health care costs are generally higher than the total traveling expensive. For instance, the hip replacement surgery costs nearly $40,000 to $60,000 in USA whereas it is about $3,000 to $4,000 overseas in countries like Thailand and India. Moreover, in 2011, it was revealed that 161 million people in USA were either uninsured or under-insured. This is the reason behind why the American health system is getting competition from developing countries. It failed to meet the medical requirements of the Americans. These are the few reason of ever increasing popularity of Medical Tourism in developed countries like USA.

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Important Things to Consider Before Medical Travel or Medical Tourism

Now days, individuals or even corporate have taken radical steps to save with the high cost of medical care in some countries such as the United States by considering medical tourism, oversee surgeries and medical travel. Many have visited to other destinations or countries to get health care healing at a lower price. This is known as medical travel, health care tourism or medical tourism. In other type of cases individuals in developing or poorer countries travels to a richer country to get medical treatment that is not accessible in their own country. An another motive for medical travel is to go from a country with long waits for some treatments as happens sometimes with national medical care to one with less waiting. Following are few reasons one should consider before setting up medical travel and health tourism.Firstly, people of expensive medical cost countries, like United States and United Kingdom in specific, can save a lot of medical bills with oversee treatment. Surgeries in India, Cost Rica and Mexico are many times cheaper than in the USA, and the same is valid of many other countries. The expensive can be quite noteworthy, especially for treatment that are not covered by medical insurance, or for individuals who are not insured.

Secondly it is becoming frequent for medical insurance companies, agents or employers who want to cut medical expensive to encourage their consumers or employees to practice medical tourism. In this way they can save a lot of funds this way. They may pay partial refunds, or at least cover transportation and housing.Thirdly, if someone is worried about the standards of medical care oversees; there is good amount assistance and information available. Many international associations and agencies, including the medical tourism associations study medical care facilities, infrastructure and hospitals around the world. They have grant accreditation to many international centers. The standards of medical treatment are a very complicated issue and may differ a lot within a country or states. Accreditation given to international medical centers at least provides some comfort in knowing there is a lower bound on the worth of an accredited facility.Fourthly, be cautions that it may be hard or not possible to get reparation for misconduct in some medical centers in different countries. Occasionally misconduct claims are not permissible or very incomplete. In some cases, a negligence suit may be likely, but it may be very tricky to collect if you even win. Negligence should be exceptional, but it is fine to understand that the covers one has at home might not exist abroad.Lastly, medical tourism and medical travel has some risks of its own. You might come across some diseases that are seldom if ever present at home. Communicable disease during recovery from operation or other treatments is a risky fixation. But the good thing is that medical care staff in the area you are visiting are certainly familiar with the diseases you could catch while there.

There are even risks from the general traveling. The idiom economy class condition refers to the danger of developing blood clots in the lower body due to being seated and unmoving during a long plane flight. Traveling while recovering from surgery raises the risk of this. This is also the one of the factor to consider when thinking about health travel.Medical tourism and health tourism may be best alternative for many people, for non-emergency treatments of course. It is regularly used for hip, joint and knee replacement or dental surgery. Cosmetic treatment is another possibility. There are medical tourism consultants and facilitators who could provide guidance at every level. They can guide you about the options available in popular medical tourism destinations. These medical tourism consultants act much like a travel agency and set almost the whole things up for you.

Save On Your Medical Bills With Medical and Health Tourism?

Many times you may have listened new stories about the rising trend of medical tourism in developed countries. Medical Patients move around the globe to find medical procedures for getting an appropriate solution to their health related needs. One must have health insurance since traveling to a foreign country seems like paying less if there’s a real chance for good quality and affordable health-care.Find out exactly about medical tourism and health tourism means for an person?Let us discuss more about Medical tourism and Health care Tourism?The word “medical and health tourism” refers to people who travel abroad to developing countries like India, Mexico and Cost Rica for any sort of medical treatment and care. Before, medical tourists were generally wealthy and affluent patients looking for some health treatments that were not available in their own country.However, today it is seen that medical patients favor traveling to other countries in an effort to control the costs of their medical care. Looking at the medical costs incurred in the treatment, patients find it much reasonable to pay the travel costs and travel abroad for their care. This helps in reducing the costs involved in the treatment. For example, if an Indian hospital charges $10,000 for an open-heart surgery, this surgery costs around $30,000 in UK and $100,000 in U.S. Looking at the potential savings, this do not surprises at all.

Additionally, patients have to wait for long to get treated in U.S. Sometimes, a major surgery is planned for coming few weeks and sometimes even days. Some of the most popular medical tourism destinations are Singapore, Thailand, India, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and South Africa.To avail the benefits of health tourism, certain things need to be considered beforehand. For instance,
a. The Person should be healthy enough to travel abroad for getting the treatment done.
b. The individual must calculate the complete cost of treatment including the traveling expenses.
c. The individual should have some health insurance coverage for the treatment or procedure. Also, your health insurance might not cover foreign treatment.
d. The individual should inquire completely about the medical tourism provider including the details of the doctors and facilities there.There is no doubt that medical tourism might save a lot of money, but you must not ignore the possible risks involved in it.The most important thing to consider is Licensing and Certification. The person should inspect about the credentials of the physician who will treat you.Do confirm whether the hospital and services you are considering have received authorization parallel to what you may find in the United States. For Americans, the recognized accreditation group is the Joint Commission International (JCI). It is the international arm of the Joint Commission in the U.S. and a non-profit organization that accredits U.S. hospitals. Most of the hospitals which serve international patients have already obtained JCI accreditation in an effort to attract more American patients.

You should not miss consider the worst case scenario that may occur. If things go wrong, you may find yourself in a foreign country without any ability to seek compensation for malpractice.The person should look for hospitals that allow enough follow-up and recovery time as your medical tourism consultant may not tell at the initial stage and is just in the business of getting patients in and out quickly. In such scenarios, required follow-up care is not provided after the treatment. Traveling too soon after surgery may cause serious complications.The person should have exposure to disease and have built up the immunity required in case of weakened individuals. Some countries, such as India, Malaysia, or Thailand have very different infectious disease-related epidemiology to Europe and North America.