Jeffrey Todd, Guardian Business Editor ,
The chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) says the island is "getting closer" to bringing a medical tourism product to fruition. Ian Fair revealed to Guardian Business that a number of investors have approached the GBPA with an eye to pursue this industry.
"I want to see one or two projects in the announcement phase as quickly as possible to demonstrate we are moving in the right direction. We have a number of things in the pipeline that are getting close," he explained. "A medical tourism product is something we're looking at. That is getting closer."
Fair explained that a number of factors make Grand Bahama an attractive option.
Proximity to the U.S. is especially convenient, he noted, not to mention the degree of infrastructure in Freeport. The ports, an international airport and less congestion than New Providence would all make it appealing to patients.
Fair told Guardian Business that in the past, Grand Bahama has not marketed itself properly, and now is the time to get out there and facilitate investment. While he believes it is too early to speculate on the degree of investment, the chairman anticipated that Grand Bahama would likely flourish through the offering of niche services.
"It should be competitively priced, which is up to the developers. Nobody is going to come along if the service is not attractive. It is not a commercial activity for the GBPA though. We're in the business of licensing," according to Fair.
He said medical tourism is a "real possibility" to help get the Grand Bahama economy back on track. The unemployment rate on the island stands at more than 20 percent, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Statistics.