It appears that “medical tourism” is not only growing for U.S. outbound tourism, but is actually getting stronger on American soil. Rather than “reverse medical tourism”, it’s actually a somewhat new category – birth tourism.
So, what is it?
It’s the practice of traveling to a country to have children. Or speaking the travel marketing lingo: the combination of medical tourism and a family vacation that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a U.S. passport for your child thanks to the Fourteenth Amendment’s “birthright citizenship” clause.
According to a recent ABC News article, and the data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the number non-resident U.S. births have risen by 53% between 2000-2006. And while this number can’t definitively be connected with Birth Tourism, it supports the theory that this trend will soon to be capitalized upon much like the blooming “medical tourism” industry.
In recent years, many women have come from Mexico, South Korea, China and Taiwan, but the trend now extends to countries in Eastern Europe, such as Turkey, where as many as 12,000 children were born in the United States to Turkish parents since 2003 by one estimate.
Within the travel industry, agents and hotel chains are seeking to benefit from business and here is just a few examples of how the travel industry is responding.
Birth tourism packages:
The Marmara Manhattan, a Turkish owned luxury hotel, has created a turn-key Birth Package which it markets to mothers living abroad. The package sells for about $45,000 and includes airport transportation, a hotel suite, special gift sets for the mother and the newborn, along with a crib and neonatal consultation and services. According to the hotel, most women stay for two months, and arrange their own medical services, which can run up to an additional $30,000.
As this potential multi-million dollar industry continues to shape up, more U.S. destinations will consider adding it to their marketing initiatives while hotel chains, travel agents and airlines will work on developing special programs to address and supply this demand.
It’s quite possible that the slogan “my parents went to the United States and all I got was this lousy T-shirt“, will become obsolete to a whole new generation of Americans.