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Medical Tourism Markets: Models of Sustainability. The Case of Spain and The Costa del Sol (Malaga)


  • Ricardo Pagan

    (Department of Applied Economics, University of Malaga, 29071 Malaga, Spain)

  • Daniel Horsfall

    (Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK)


The interest and relevance of medical tourism has increased significantly over the last few decades, and it has become a very lucrative source of income and profit for many firms. This paper analyses the sustainability of the medical tourism model in Spain in general, and in The Costa del Sol (Spain) in particular, in order to investigate the potential challenges that the domestic industry will face in the future. For this purpose, we first analysed the process of the globalization of health services and the main characteristics of the Spanish medical tourism industry (in terms of tourism and health services). Second, we examined the data availability on medical tourism for the cases of Spain, Andalusia and The Costa del Sol, and identified who travels, why, and for what reasons. The results show that Spain and The Costa del Sol offer high-quality medical and tourism facilities and services with very competitive prices, and with the high commitment and support of public local authorities, tourism and health providers, and universities. However, the lack of a real leadership, well-defined strategy, financial support, and specific training programs are considered to be crucial challenges for the near future. In addition to this, the novel coronavirus, the economic crisis, Brexit and the situation of British expats living in Spain and The Costa del sol are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo Pagan & Daniel Horsfall, 2020. "Medical Tourism Markets: Models of Sustainability. The Case of Spain and The Costa del Sol (Malaga)," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(21), pages 1-17, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:12:y:2020:i:21:p:8818-:d:433789

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Muhammad N. Abdul-Rahman & Thowayeb H. Hassan & Ahmed H. Abdou & Mostafa A. Abdelmoaty & Mahmoud I. Saleh & Amany E. Salem, 2023. "Responding to Tourists’ Intentions to Revisit Medical Destinations in the Post-COVID-19 Era through the Promotion of Their Clinical Trust and Well-Being," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(3), pages 1-19, January.
    2. Khoa Nguyen Duc & Nhu Y Dang Thi, 2020. "Economic Motives and Problems of Health Tourism in Asia Pacific," Czech Journal of Tourism, Sciendo, vol. 9(1), pages 22-40, December.

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