Is Las Vegas poised to be the next major destination for medical and wellness tourism?
Yes, according to several major Las Vegas organizations that recently released a report contending that the city could become a strategic market for medical tourism.
The Las Vegas Regional Strategic Plan for Medical & Wellness Tourism states that the city’s reputation as a prominent medical meeting destination, the existence of more than 45 spas on and off the Strip, existing infrastructure for patients and families, and specialists in a number of disciplines are among the reasons Las Vegas could become a destination for the growing number of medical and wellness tourists, tapping into what is currently a $50-$60 billion industry annually, expected to grow to $100 billion in the next decade.
“Las Vegas is one of the few destinations in the world to develop a regional strategic plan for medical and wellness travel,” said Douglas Geinzer, chief executive officer for Las Vegas Health Education Advocacy and Leadership of Southern Nevada (Las Vegas HEALS), a presenter of the report. "Rapidly evolving treatment expertise combined with a world-class hospitality infrastructure makes Las Vegas a serious player in health and wellness travel.”
Also developed and presented by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the report outlines three key areas of potential development to help spur growth in medical and wellness tourism; building additional programs that connect medical tourism marketing with hotel and resort concierge services; expanding medical services with wellness spa services; and identifying and advocating for any legal changes that would help facilitate growth in the industry.
According to the report, over the past ten years, several factors have helped pave the way for Las Vegas to become a leader in the medical tourism realm. These include the opening of Terminal 3 at McCarran International Airport, making the city even more accessible to domestic and international destinations; hosting several prominent medical meetings each year, resulting in a concentration of healthcare industry leaders; and several niche disciplines within the city’s healthcare industry, including fertility, plastic surgery, age management, bariatric and orthopedic surgery, diagnostic imaging and dental, which could attract both domestic and international travelers to the city.
These developments may not have been planned with medical tourism in mind, but they have helped set the city up for potential success in this area.
“The economic decline shook things up in Las Vegas and made everyone look deeper into diversifying our economy,” Geinzer said. “We inventoried the assets we have as a community and rather than diversify away from hospitality, we chose to diversify into it.”