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Freeport Planning to Capitalize on Medical Tourism Sector

As the global medical tourism sector continues to experience  phenomenal growth, Grand Bahama Island and more specifically, the City of Freeport is hoping to capitalize on this $100 billion industry. With the recent opening of the Okyanos Stem Cell Therapy facility on Grand Bahama, executives at The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA), believe that Freeport is well positioned to capture a portion of the Health Tourism market, especially considering our proximity to neighboring North America. 

Derek Newbold, GBPA Senior Manager of Business Development and a Certified Medical Tourism Professional (CMTP), expressed that GBPA has been pursuing the medical tourism sector for several years; and is now seeing significant investor interest. He attended the World Medical Tourism Congress, held earlier this month in Orlando Florida and shared that GBPA seized every opportunity to share with attendees as well as exhibiting participants, the opportunities/benefits of Grand Bahama Island as a medical tourism destination.

The 3-day mega event is host to every sector of the healthcare industry and boasts a captive audience of more than 20,000 participants representing over 100 countries.

“This is the second year that GBPA has participated at the World Medical Tourism Congress, and as usual the event is always impressive," cited Newbold.  "With more than 40 million people in the US who are either uninsured or underinsured, Grand Bahama becomes a very viable option for high volume, low risk procedures offered at comparative quality levels, and at a cost savings benefit," explained Newbold.

“It is essential that we establish the necessary linkages throughout the industry to successfully develop and promote Grand Bahama as a viable jurisdiction for medical tourism related investments and services, including stem cell related therapies. This is why we have taken steps to become members of the Medical Tourism Association,” he continued.

A few years ago, Government enacted landmark stem cell  legislation, which facilitated the launch of Okyanos on Grand Bahama, a project GBPA was pleased to see come to fruition. Ian Rolle, President of GBPA noted that, Okyanos could be a mere beginning of the role Freeport and Grand Bahama could play in such a lucrative industry.

"The Invest Grand Bahama Unit has had an excellent opportunity to meet with a number of industry players who can support our efforts in developing a healthcare cluster and directing traffic to Grand Bahama to utilize new and existing healthcare facilities,” Rolle said.

A recent report by the US Census Bureau revealed that by 2030 almost half of all Americans will be 50 years or older and more than six in every 10 baby boomers will be suffering from multiple chronic conditions. Additionally, a recent gallop poll reflected that 29% of Americans would consider traveling abroad for medical procedures such as heart bypass surgery, hip or knee replacement, plastic surgery, cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Rolle noted that these statistics unveil a significant opportunity for Freeport.

“While we have achieved a small milestone in attracting a facility  that can cater to the Medical Tourism sector of our economy, we still have some ways to go. In order for medical tourism to become a thriving industry in any jurisdiction it is critical to have participation from key stakeholders impacting the sector; this includes hospitals, clinics, government, tourism and other supporting sectors. This process has started, and GBPA will continue to work diligently to ensure its success in Freeport,” the president concluded.

ABOUT GBPA


The Hawksbill Creek Agreement (HCA) gave GBPA responsibility for the development, administration and management, and provision of services within an area called the 'Port Area' (230 sq. miles). GBPA was mandated by this Agreement to build a deep water harbour, an industrial community and required infrastructure for the City.

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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE


GBPA has achieved an astonishing amount since its inception in 1955.  When first created it was a Grand Bahamian business conglomerate charged not only with land and commercial development but also with all the regulatory and administrative functions of the Freeport/Lucaya.

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THE WAY FORWARD


Firstly, I wish to thank Joan Albury and the Counsellors for this platform enabling us to share with the Grand Bahama community, the outlook for our island! 2015 marks the 60th year of the birth of Freeport and the Hawksbill Creek Agreement; 60 years of a partnership between The Government of The Bahamas and The Grand Bahama Port Authority. I'm here to raise hopes for 2015 and to lay a few popular myths to rest - For those who don't know me, I am Sarah St George.

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