The invoicing of medical tourism remains “zero” due to the impact of Covid-19

The sector defines the effect that the pandemic has had as “devastating”, although with the return to normality it expects a strong recovery.

A passenger waits in a Madrid airport terminal.

A year ago, the medical tourism sector expressed its fear about the impact that the expansion of the coronavirus could have on its accounts. A fear that has materialized. The stoppage of activity has had a clearly negative effect on the turnover of this sector, remaining at or close to zero, according to the first forecasts.

And the fact is that, although the accounts for last year are not yet closed, David Medina, president of Spaincares (the Spanish health tourism cluster), has admitted that the effect of the pandemic has been “devastating”. For Medina, 2020 “has been the worst in history for this cluster” to the point that the billing figures “are at or close to zero.”

In addition to the stoppage of activity, which continues today, the cluster has also been affected because The Government has left Spaincares without subsidies. “In May of last year, the Secretary of State for Tourism informed us that we were no longer strategic. It was a surprising decision because the collaborative relationships were fluid”, Medina explained to Invertia.

Surgery room

Surgery room
@gpiron and UnsplashOmicrono

The end of these subsidies “has seriously endangered the cluster”, has recognized the president of Spaincares. “We didn’t live on them, but we need them to live. Our cost structure and our minimum staffing were conditioned by this aid”.

Therefore, from the cluster “we are trying to re-establish ties”. From Spaincares they consider that “if there is a moment in the recent history of Spanish tourism where it is necessary to innovate and bet on different things to recover market share, it is now. Ours is one of the sectors that can contribute the most flow”. And, for this, “we need the promotion by the State”.

new initiatives

Despite the negative context in which the health tourism sector finds itself, the partners of Spaincares “have decided to move forward” thanks to the support of private hospitals, spas and territorial tourism initiatives such as those of the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and the Valencian Community .

It is precisely on the latter that the cluster is focusing its efforts: “We hope to attract new territorial initiatives from the Spanish geography”. In addition, the sector is considering opening new avenues. “We are working on creating the wellness line, thus implying sports tourism, the Mediterranean diet, etc.”


The recovery of health tourism will depend on how the vaccination campaign against Covid progresses. “When the flow of tourists recovers, our industry will bounce back even stronger given that we come from a completely paralyzed situation.”

For Medina, health tourism is one of the modalities “that can be recovered sooner”. This is due to the fact that the health break has generated a decrease in care in the rest of the pathologies that are not covid, that is, “it has generated disease”.

Vaccine tourism in Spain?

“Today it is difficult to guess.” This is how Medina responds to the possibility that Covid-19 vaccine tourism can take place in Spain. Currently this is not possible “due to the small number of doses of antigens that we have.”

In the event that there is a scenario in which there are sufficient vaccines “everything will be possible”. However, Medina prefers not to venture to make forecasts in this regard because With the current situation, vaccine tourism “is science fiction”.