In their study of health and tourism, Goodrich and Goodrich defi ne health-care tourism as “the attempt on the part of a tourist facility or destination to attract tourists by deliberately promoting its health-care services and facilities, in addition to its regular tourism amenities.” They studied some 24 mostly more developed countries and did not include complex medical procedures. So too Hunter-Jones, in her study of the role of holidays in managing cancer, distinguished between health tourism, spa tourism, health-care tourism, and wellness tourism, but did not include invasive, complex procedures. Henderson expanded the health care alternatives as per the following typology.
She divided health-care tourism into three categories: spas and alternative therapies (massage, yoga, beauty care, etc.), cosmetic surgery (and other nonessential medical procedures), and medical tourism (such as health screening, heart surgeries, joint replacements, cancer treatment). In this study, the classifi cation of services is different from Henderson’s insofar as it gives prominence to diagnostic services. This broadening is warranted given the reality of the mid-2000s consumer demand. Also, Henderson’s cosmetic surgery and medical tourism categories are spliced in this study. This is necessary to refl ect the fact that, while in the 1980s plastic surgery was the principal surgery sought abroad, in the twenty-fi rst century it no longer dominates the market.
Finally, in this study the preferred umbrella term for the entire industry is medical tourism rather than Henderson’s health-care tourism. This refl ects the growing encroachment of medicine even in spa and wellness services, an encroachment that might be perceived as a marketing tool, a trend, or even an egregious misuse of terms in order to lend credibility to a service. Whether justifi ed or not, the use of the word medical is real and this study responds to that reality.
Medical tourism services are studied below in the following categories: invasive, diagnostic, and lifestyle. There is no evidence of services sold to foreigners that are outside these categories as not all medical services are tradable (for example, Canadians do not travel to South Africa for the treatment of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder). Moreover, some services must be consumed close to home, such as those demanded by patients physically unable to travel, or when emergency care is needed following an accident.