Seychelles and Cayman Islands seeking medical tourism investors

Alain St. Ange of the Seychelles Tourism Board is seeking investors for the Seychelles islands to develop medical tourism opportunities. The Seychelles is a safe and stable country with a tiny population of 87,000 and dependent on a growing tourism industry. It features a broad spectrum of accommodation choices, from 5-star hotels and exclusive island resorts to small hotels of under 25 rooms, guesthouses, and self-catering establishments.  A year ago it launched an affordable Seychelles campaign, to break the perception that it is only for the rich and famous.

Narayana Hrudayalaya (NH), the Indian hospital chain, is close to raising the initial investment for the first phase of a new medical tourism 140-bed multi-specialty hospital in the Cayman Islands. NH will raise these funds through a mix of debt and equity with more reliance on the latter. According to Dr Devi Shetty of NH, they are in talks with US-based organisations to invest in the project. NH raised $100 million from J P Morgan and AIG in 2007, and tboth could also be investors for this project.

NH signed a detailed agreement with the Government of Cayman Islands during April 2010 for a project in four phases. If it gets to the fourth phase Narayana Cayman University Medical Center will be a 2,000 bed hospital in 250 acres. In the first phase, the hospital will cater to heart, cancer, ortho and gastrointestinal surgery and will rely on medical tourism, mainly from the United States. The Cayman Islands is an hour flight from the USA.

Seven sites in East End have been identified as potential sites for the hospital and a location for the hospital and its associated facilities, including assisted living quarters and a medical education facility, will be finalised soon. The Cayman Islands Government has passed a number of laws to help pave the way for the establishment of the hospital, including the Health Practice Law, which enables medical staff trained in India and other overseas countries to practice in Cayman; the Tax Concessions (Amendment) Law, which exempts companies from potential future taxes; and the Medical Negligence (Non-Economic Damages) (Amendment) Law, which caps pain and suffering damages awarded in medical malpractice cases to $500,000. A final piece of legislation, which will allow human organ and tissue donations and transplants to be done in Cayman, is being drafted and is expected to be tabled later this year.

Governed under British law and famed for the absence of direct taxation, the Cayman Islands are attractive as they have: no income tax, no inheritance tax, no capital gains tax, no tax on non-residency, and no legal restrictions to foreign ownership of property.