"Cancun Model" to blend medical services with tourist know-how

by Jonathan Slevin ,  Universal News Wire | 2011-11-15

An idea in a desk drawer 43 years ago led to Cancun's transformation from an area depressed by a disappeared rope industry on the Yucatan Peninsula to the third largest tourist destination for people in the United States. Yucatan was producing 90 percent of the world's rope and burlap bags, until the invention of synthetics and nylon rope wiped out the industry and left the primarily Mayan workers without jobs. Servando Acuna Braun, president of Medical Travel Mexico, has rolled up his sleeves to help launch Cancun's next big adventure into the American market, building off the one-industry town of Cancun.

"Tourism is our only industry," said Braun. The gregarious, U.S.-educated business and community leader is blending together the city's tourism industry with its medical infrastructure. He and other business and medical leaders in Cancun developed Medical Travel Mexico after 18 months of market and medical research. They concluded Cancun's tourism know-how provided the secret sauce for success. "We have a comprehensive strategy to be the backyard for medical health for the U.S.," Braun said in a recent interview outside Chicago with Health Travel Newswire. "Sixty million uninsured or underinsured people in the United States can benefit from Mexico's medical services."

Other destinations among Mexico's 31 states are growing their medical tourism marketing and capabilities. Mexico City announced a goal for 2012 to capture 5 percent of U.S. medical tourism, figured at 15,000 people in 2008, said Juan Carlos Arnau Avila, an official with the capital city's Secretariat of Tourism, according to Mexico Business Web on August 6, 2010. Medical tourists to Mexico stay for seven days on average and spend $13,000, while regular travelers stay two days and spend $400 dollars, Avila said. The president of Jalisco's Association of Private Hospitals, Gabriel Najar Lopez, said the Mexican economy earned $11.8 million in 2010 from U.S. and Canadian medical tourists, according to Mexican Business Web.

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