Using authenticity to achieve competitive advantage in medical tourism in the English speaking Caribbean

Donna Chambers, B McIntosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Medical tourism is a relatively recent global economic and political phenomenon which has assumed increasing importance for developing countries, particularly in Asia. It has been slower to develop within the context of the tourism industry in English-speaking Caribbean countries but there is evidence that the tourism policy makers in the region perceive medical tourism as a potentially lucrative niche market. However, while the potential of medical tourism has seemingly been embraced by the region's political directorate, there has been limited discussion of the extent to which this market niche can realistically provide competitive advantage for the region. The argument of this conceptual paper is that the English-speaking Caribbean cannot hope to compete successfully in the global medical tourism market with many developing world destinations in Asia, or even with other Caribbean countries such as Cuba, on factors such as low cost, staff expertise, medical technological capability, investment in healthcare facilities or even in terms of the natural resources of sun, sea and sand. Rather, in order to achieve competitive advantage the countries of the region should, on the one hand, identify and develop their unique resources and competences as they relate to medical tourism, while, on the other hand, they should exploit the demand of the postmodern tourist for authentic experiences. Both these supply and demand side issues, it is argued, can be addressed through the development of a medical tourism product that utilises the region's indigenous herbal remedies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-933
Number of pages19
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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