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Successes of the Health and Wellness Tourism Industry of the Dominican Republic

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Following its first Health and Wellness Tourism Study, which shed light into the challenges and problems facing medical tourism and designed a framework to expand medical travel in the country, the Dominican Republic has published its second Study to highlight the successes, opportunities, and competitive advantages of its wellness and health tourism industry.  

The Dominican Republic, known for its breathtaking beaches, rich culture, and vibrant history, has steadily shifted the paradigm for medical tourism in the Caribbean. Located in the Caribbean, this tropical paradise has been attracting international tourists for years but had not caught the eyes of teeming medical tourists. However, driven by an Executive Order 787-21 by President Luis Abinader in late 2021 and clear strategies developed by the Dominican Association of Health Tourism (ADTS) led by Dr. Alejandro Cambiaso, the country has reconfigured its health and wellness tourism space to become a global leader and key player in medical travel.  

This second Health and Wellness Tourism Study takes a deep dive into the lessons learnt as the country re-organizes its healthcare tourism paradigm and sets itself at par with existing global leaders in the industry. It draws from expert opinions, local data, interviews, and surveys done across its healthcare systems and wellness offerings.  

These efforts first gained widespread global recognition following a swift and effective recovery strategy from the pandemic, which earned it the nation with the best recovery in the health sector by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2022.  This followed its ranking among the top medical tourism destinations by the Medical Tourism Index 2020-2021 report, rating the country’s medical travel industry 14 among 46 destinations, a ranking it earned from being one of the top 10 in the Medical Tourism Industry category.  

The government of the Dominican Republic has achieved so much within a short period by sheer determination and a clear strategy, largely driven by the Dominican Association of Health Tourism (ADTS), harnessing the unique offerings of private partnership, developing cutting-edge technology to strengthen local healthcare, and promoting healthcare innovation and world-class outcomes.  

The country has invested heavily in building new healthcare facilities to meet the global pent-up demand for elective care, constructing new high-tech hospitals, wellness hotels and outpatient centers. These new strategies have scaled up the standards and quality in the country as it has gone on to achieve some international healthcare accreditations, including the JCI accreditation.  

Consequently, global demand for plastic surgery and dental procedures has surged in the Dominican Republic, driven primarily by public-private investments and delivered by state-of-the-art hospitals and some of the best medical teams.  

The country not only offers quality healthcare at par with global standards, but also offers competitive prices compared to cost of care in advanced countries. For example, the average expenditure of a health tourist visiting the Dominican Republic for an advanced cosmetic or dental procedure, inclusive of accommodation, feeding, and other logistics, is $7,500, more than 60% cost savings compared to having a similar procedure done in the U.S. or the UK.  

This rapid shift in medical tourism in the Dominican Republic attracted nearly 270,000 medical tourists in 2022, more than half of whom visited for dental treatments, 40,000 for plastic surgery, and 26,290 for other surgical procedures.  

This translated to an average income of more than $1.3 billion for the Dominican Republic from medical tourism in 2022, equivalent to more than 72 billion Dominican Pesos. The study estimates that by 2028, more than 500,000 medical tourists would be received in the Dominican Republic, a 47% increase from the figure in 2022, with an estimate of 30% annual increase every year from 2028 until 2033.  

The future is promising for medical tourism in the Dominican Republic as the key players and major stakeholders collaborate and partner to build better frameworks and policies to reach the global market. With a target of more than 1 million international patients by 2043, these players are working tirelessly to keep the Dominican Republic at par and even ahead of current players as they harness innovative technologies and advanced medical initiatives.  

Nonetheless, Stakeholders have highlighted from the study some key areas of growth to help the country achieve these metrics and these include improving cultural competence, achieving and investing in international accreditations, leveraging digital transformation, infection control and risk mitigation, as well as disaster risk management.  

To learn more about the study, click here.  

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