Those heading south of the border for medical resources don’t have to worry about waiting as long to cross back into the U.S. with the debut this past week of a medical tourism lane at the Calexico West Port of Entry. The lane is part of a larger plan by the city’s tourism department, Comite de Turismo y Convenciones de Mexicali, to harness the lucrative medical tourism market.
More than 155,000 people visited Mexicali Municipal, which includes Algodones, and spent about $16 million in medical tourism in 2010, COTUCO Director Omar Dipp said. This includes hotel stays, meals and more in addition to the medical procedures themselves. Calexico Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Hildy Carrillo said that the promotion is positive for Calexico too as patients, their families and friends will likely stay, eat or shop in Calexico while receiving medical services in Mexicali.
The entrance to the medical tourism lane is a few blocks from the border crossing and eventually feeds into the other lanes closer to the Calexico West Port of Entry. To enter, one must have a pass administered by one of the participating medical providers listed in a medical directory, identification to enter the U.S., a receipt of expenses, and the vehicle must have U.S. plates or a logo from a participating medical facility.