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Fernandina Lawmaker Fighting For More Medical Tourism Marketing Dollars

Florida Senate

A Fernandina Beach lawmaker is pushing for even more state funding to promote medical tourism. Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) wants the Sunshine State to better compete with other doctor-heavy destinations.

This year, Florida awarded more than $3 million to local governments, including Jacksonville and Amelia Island, to promote their medical services. But Bean says that matching grant program was a one-time appropriation that will go away if his bill doesn’t pass. He says a bigger chunk of the state’s tourism marketing budget should go toward attracting the bigger spenders.

“What we’ve discovered is that a medical tourist is a typical on economic steroids, so to speak,” Bean said.

He says people traveling to the U.S. for medical procedures spend up to 12 times as much as a typical visitor, partly because they stay longer and tend to bring family with them.

This is the second year he’s filed the proposal. 

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP