A Publication of WTVP

The economic impact of medical tourism, both direct and indirect, is considerable.

When it comes to the subject of tourism, most people think about places to go and things to see and do… usually somewhere else. OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and OSF HealthCare want people to think about coming to Peoria—not because they are patients or families of patients, but for training—and to see what is taking place within a very robust medical community. Bringing people to Peoria for medical conferences and training continues to put us on the map, and it’s making a significant economic impact on the area in the process.

Hosting in Peoria
The annual meeting of the Midwest Pediatric Cardiology Society (MWPCS), for instance, will be hosted in September by Children’s Hospital of Illinois at the Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center on the OSF Saint Francis campus. The annual fall meeting of the Midwest Cardiac Sonographers Society (MCSS) will be held at the same time.

Larger cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Omaha, Indianapolis and Minneapolis have welcomed the MWPCS in recent years. The last time Children’s Hospital hosted the group was 1978. The MCSS event has usually been held in the St. Louis area, but with the MWPCS meeting in Peoria, it was a perfect opportunity to try it elsewhere.

“I look forward to showing attendees the breadth of our Pediatric Cardiology program and the quality of the people and facility we have here in downstate Illinois,” says Dr. David Chan, medical director of Children’s Hospital of Illinois’ Congenital Heart Program.

In addition to the conference, MWPCS attendees will have the opportunity to visit the Peoria Riverfront Museum and Caterpillar Visitors Center, take a dinner cruise on the Spirit of Peoria, or go Asian carp hunting—all unique opportunities to further explore and learn about the Peoria area.

Each of the events is expected to draw more than 100 attendees from throughout the Midwest. According to figures shared by the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, based on a survey done by the U.S. Travel Association for the Illinois Office of Tourism, there is a $393 direct economic impact on the local economy for each hotel night booked.

Conservatively figuring that only half of the attendees will stay in a hotel for two nights translates to a $78,600 direct economic impact for just two events! That direct impact funnels out indirectly as well, through the salaries paid to workers in the hotels and restaurants, who then also have money to spend locally.

A Growing Impact
Since Jump opened in the spring of 2013, the economic impact of medical tourism has only grown. In calendar year 2014, there were 3,027 events at Jump, including meetings, conferences, symposiums, simulations and tours. While the majority of people using the facility have been local, approximately 1,000 people have come from outside the Tri-County Area—from California to South Carolina, and many points in between. If each of those visitors spent just a single night in a hotel, that would mean nearly $400,000 of direct economic impact on the Peoria area.

Even if people aren’t spending the night—making it a day trip instead—they usually need to fill up the gas tank, and maybe grab a few snacks for the road while here!

While difficult to fully quantify the impact of medical tourism, it is certainly one more opportunity to show off all that Peoria has to offer. And who knows? Peoria may even end up as a destination for people to bring their families back to check out. iBi