Barbados, an idyllic Caribbean island that has distinguished itself as an iconic holiday destination, and a leading domicile for international business, is now well poised to carve out a niche for itself in the rapidly expanding global health and wellness industry.
The trend of people traveling to locations to promote and restore their physical, mental and social well-being has been practiced for centuries. Whether it was the legendary fountain of youth or powerful medicinal herbs from remote locations, humanity has been in pursuit of health and wellness for generations. While this has been the case for centuries, it was not until 1987 that the expression “medical tourism” was coined.
Since the late 1980’s, medical tourism has grown globally into a well-structured and immensely successful driver of economic growth. Annually, the global industry is worth more than USD 40 billion, and indications are that the sector will continue to grow, amidst the turbulent economic times. It has been estimated that an average of 30 million people travel for spa vacations, cosmetic surgeries, cardiac treatments, dental surgeries and other therapeutic and health related services. Travel trends suggest that consumers will continue to explore these health services to reduce the increasing medical costs in the developed world. Barbados provides a viable alternative, given factors such as affordability, discreetness, accessibility and quality standards.
Barbados, is ready to cater to this global market of consumers who demand quality, confidentiality and sophistication by providing access to a cadre of well trained and highly professional experts in disciplines and specialties including angioplasty, pediatric cardiology, pacemaker implantation, orthopedic surgery, cosmetic surgery, dental surgery, ophthalmic surgery, homeopathy, massage therapy, osteopathy, iridology and much more. In Barbados, the consumer is guaranteed to benefit from a quality wellness experience. The range of facilities including the in-vitro fertilization center, state of the art cardiac clinics, various day spas, gym facilities and rehabilitation centers along with the island’s tropical climate will make this destination the Caribbean’s preferred wellness choice.
Barbados’ commitment to success is reflected in the adaptation of many of the best practices of the industry, including insistence on standards and accreditation that are monitored by the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), the Paramedical Council, The Caribbean Spa and Wellness Association Barbados Chapter and the governmental regulatory body – the Ministry of Health. While some countries purport to offer first world services at third world prices, Barbados proudly offers itself as the Caribbean center for medical diversity in a sophisticated yet relaxed environment.
Investment Opportunities in the Health and Wellness Sector
The Health and Wellness sector in Barbados is an attractive investment opportunity and the government of Barbados is working assiduously to ensure that measures are in place to encourage its growth. In keeping with the investor friendly policy used to promote the island as a center for international business, the government is adapting the local incentives regime to attract investment in the health and wellness sector.
The International Business Companies Act, has made it beneficial for foreign investors to setup and operate medical transcription and eyewear manufacturing facilities in Barbados. In addition, the Tourism Development Act allows any health and wellness tourism service company which qualifies, to waivers of capital expenditure and 150% of interest, exemption from import duty, value added tax and environmental levy in respect of furniture, fixtures and equipment as well as building materials, supplies and equity financing.
In addition, the country is positioning itself as the Caribbean center for medical diversity and is therefore inviting international service providers to consider Barbados as an excellent strategic partner. Access to Barbados is easy, with flights to and from the major gateways in Europe and North America leaving daily. In addition, Barbados has an excellent supply of highly trained professionals: surgeons, homeopaths, alternative care providers and wellness experts. All medical tourism facilities meet international quality standards and, the support infrastructure, which includes accommodation, information and communications technology and regulatory framework are all of world-class standards.
As Barbados continues to seek out innovative ways to ensure the growth of its services sector, more opportunities will be created in Health and Wellness. There will be opportunities for strategic partnerships across borders, to build and operate a greater number of state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities to share expertise and resources. As Barbados marches forward, it will build on current legislation in order to facilitate continued growth of the sector. The excellent quality of service and the opportunities for investing in health and wellness make Barbados the preferred choice.
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