The community of Garza in Nosara could have a medical tourism center by 2016, according to the mayor of the Municipality of Nicoya, Marcos Jimenez, which would create opportunities for area residents.
Jimenez stated that a search for investors in the project has already begun.
“We really have to make smart investments. If we are one of the world’s blue zones, the point of reference is that we live longer. So we have thought it would be prudent to attract investment of this nature, but we are still in a warm-up stage,” explained the mayor.
Medical tourism, or health tourism, as it is also called, is a type of business that involves traveling to another city or country to receive medical treatment or attention.
Jimenez envisions having a formal proposal ready for 2015 that guarantees that at least 50 job openings would be created in the community of Garza.
“The people that will be contracted in basic services and those that have the technical requirements [would] have to be from the area, which is to say that they guarantee us jobs with the investments that they will make,” he clarified.
For now, Garza does not have an official zoning plan, a tool that regulates urban development in the country. Given its absence, construction in Garza is paralyzed. Regardless, Jimenez said that they are dividing up the canton’s different areas with small zoning plans.
“Although we have the coastal zoning plans archived for Nicoya canton, we are trying to establish a dynamic that allows us to segment and plan areas in the sector of Garza in such a way that we will be able to bring this idea to life– an idea that is preliminary,” explained Jimenez.
Medical Tourism in Costa Rica
In November of 2013, a residential building was inaugurated in Escazu specializing in attending to the elderly’s health needs. It is geared towards middle and upper class patients. The complex, called Verdeza, has monthly rates from $1,700 to $5,000.
According to the mayor, the Garza project could be similar to Verdeza, but they intend to offer more services.
“We should think about diversification…. Medical tourism is a much broader concept. We have to promote other complimentary sectors like leisure and recreation and improve the quality of life of people who want to come,” commented the mayor.
According to data from a report by the Council for the International Promotion of Costa Rican Medicine (PROMED – Consejo de la Promoción Internacional de la Medicina de Costa Rica), 48,253 medical tourists visited Costa Rica in 2011, generating some $338 million.
According to the report, the specialties most sought-after by foreigners, most of whom come from the United States and Canada, were dentistry (42%), orthopedics/bariatrics/gynecology (22%), preventive medicine (16%) and plastic surgery (10%).