According to the group, 13.4% of all trips made to Costa Rica are for a medical procedure. 80% of visitors come from the United States and 10% from Canada. The rest corresponds to tourists from Central America and the Caribbean.
The most sought-after services are:
- Dental treatments: 42%
- Other surgeries such as orthopedic, bariatric, cardiovascular, ophthalmological, oncological, etc: 22%
- Preventive medicine: 16%
- Plastic and aesthetic surgery: 10%
- Pharmacy, rehabilitation, audiology, dermatology, physiotherapy: 10%
Important foreign exchange
“Since the 1970s, it has generated important foreign exchange for the country. It involves a wide value chain, not only hospitals and clinics but also airlines, hotels, restaurants, transport companies, tours, wellness activities, handicrafts”, said the executive director of the chamber, Massimo Manzi.
It is estimated that before the pandemic, this economic activity generated $456 million annually in the country. The chamber hopes that these figures will recover with the elimination of sanitary restrictions.
However, the international tourism sector continues to be one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and international recovery is projected until 2025. “We are reaching similar figures (to those recorded before the pandemic) that we hope to reach at the beginning of 2023,” added Manzi.
Momentum in the Legislative Assembly
Given this positive perspective, the chamber also requests support from the Legislative Assembly through the processing of bill 21,140 called “Law for the promotion and development of health tourism services in Costa Rica.” This text promotes declaring medical tourism as of public utility.
In addition, it establishes an inter-institutional commission to promote this economic activity. Institutions such as the Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex), the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT), the Ministry of Health, the Promoter of Foreign Trade (Procomer), the Costa Rican Coalition of Development Initiatives (Cinde), and the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur). Also the Costa Rican Chamber of Health and the College of Physicians and Surgeons.