Burt: Bermuda ‘an ideal location for a world-class medical tourism facility’
Medical tourism remains on the table as an option for Bermuda, with an announcement that foreign investors had shown interest in developing a new service on the island.
David Burt’s Budget Statement in the House of Assembly said further detail on a proposal for a “world-class” clinic catering to patients from overseas was expected for later this year.
The Premier added that Bermuda was “uniquely positioned” to cash in on a growing global trend of medical tourism.
“A committee of stakeholders, along with leading professionals, investigated this opportunity further and, given Bermuda’s proximity to the US and Canada, its desirable climate for medical treatment recovery and its positive reputation for quality and standards, Bermuda was determined to be an ideal location for a world-class medical tourism facility.”
Building and running a clinic would bring jobs and a knock-on boost to hospitality and transport, Mr Burt told MPs.
He said it could bring “thousands” of new tourists along with resort fees and medical professionals moving to the island
“It will also create opportunities for training Bermudians to fill technical positions within the new medical facility.”
Mr Burt sounded an optimistic note on tourism, saying the industry was on “a trajectory to reach pre-pandemic levels”, including an “historic increase in cruise arrivals” this year.
He affirmed the Throne Speech commitment that the Tourism Investment Act, aimed at giving incentives for developers in the industry, would get amended to “permit the Government greater discretion in the granting of relief” to developers and “those investing in attractions, restaurants and hotels”.
“Right now, Bermuda is not competitive, and these changes will ensure that we attract investment to grow jobs and provide a brighter future for Bermuda’s tourism sector.”
Addressing the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton resort, Mr Burt said MPs would consider changes to the Public Treasury (Administration and Payments) Act 1969.
Mr Burt said the amendments would shore up protections for the Government on its $75 million guarantee of local lending to support the redevelopment.
Medical tourism in Bermuda comes with a history: it featured in the 2012 Throne Speech of the Progressive Labour Party administration under the then premier, Paula Cox.
A decade ago, the development of the new acute care wing at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital was floated for the possible inclusion of medical tourism.
Other suggestions for Bermuda have included substance use rehabilitation, stem cell research and bringing a medical school to the island.
Mr Burt included medical tourism in the Progressive Labour Party’s platform for the 2020 General Election.
At the time, he said the Cabinet had approved a feasibility study.
Mr Burt also told The Royal Gazette in 2020 that medical tourism could also cut down healthcare costs by allowing for “some procedures where persons would typically fly overseas to be done here in Bermuda, and that actually benefits our economy”.
Ricky Brathwaite, the chief executive of the Bermuda Health Council, said he would be able to comment in more detail next week.
But he added: “There have been a number of medical tourism projects that have come across my desk.
“There has been some discussion more recently on a few of those options. These are not being presented by us but are proposals we have seen.”
In his Budget Statement, Mr Burt told the House the island had “received interest from leading US academic medical centres and foreign investors” on medical tourism.
The Premier added that “we anticipate making a further announcement on this initiative during the third quarter of 2023”.
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