Argentina launches Medicina Argentina medical tourism promotion

 

After several years when the only promotion of medical tourism to the country was by small agencies and clinics, the Argentine government has launched a medical tourism initiative.

The government’s sudden interest in medical tourism is driven by a dramatic fall in tourism to the country because of the effects of the global recession and the swine flu epidemic. In August, the latest month where figures are available, the number of foreign visitors dropped by 31.8 percent compared with 2008, according to a recent government report. With income of $3.36 billion in 2008, tourism was the country’s third-largest source of foreign currency. Trying to make-up the lost $ billion with medical tourism is hugely optimistic, as most medical visits to the country are short-stay cosmetic surgery.

 The Argentine government plan to promote medical tourism hopes to attract visitors who divide their stays between getting medical treatment or operations and sightseeing. To get the initiative under way, the National Institute for the Tourist Promotion of Argentina, INPROTUR, has agreed to promote selected medical facilities that will offer lodging and tourist visits to patients from abroad.

Tourism Secretary Enrique Meyer says, “We are also taking to the different fairs around the world a programme with prestigious medical professionals, latest-generation technology available in the country, personalized attention and comfort, added to unique tourist attractions. This work, that seeks to promote Argentine medicine abroad, will be adopted as a state policy that should remain in place over time, obtaining good income for our country.”

The government is following on from local clinics who have began offering plans combining treatment with trips to the country’s main tourist locations, including Iguazu Falls and the gigantic Perito Moreno Glacier. These have attracted an unknown number of customers over the past few years who have taken advantage of the low prices in the South American country compared with the costs of European or US medical treatment, particularly following the devaluation of the peso in 2002.Most medical tourists come to Argentina to undergo cosmetic surgery, although there are also people who come for surgical operations, while many childless couples come seeking fertility treatments.

INPROTUR is public-private agency responsible for the promotion of Argentina as a tourist destination abroad. Medicina Argentina was organized as a result of the initiative sponsored by INPROTUR and Fundacion Exportar with the purposes of offering healthcare in Argentina: highly-specialized skills of physicians, scientists and technical staff and at the same time making Argentina a medical tourism destination.

The Medicine Argentina program includes stays in luxury hotels, as well as a variety of tourist and cultural attractions. At launch it promotes six hospitals, four specialist clinics and four local medical tourism agencies. The website is in English and Spanish, and plans to add more services soon. 

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