The discourse of medical tourism in the media

Tomas Mainil (Lecturer at the Academy of Tourism and a Researcher at the Centre for Cross‐Cultural Understanding (CCCU), NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, Breda, The Netherlands, and member of the Research Centre for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (CELLO), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium)
Vincent Platenkamp (Associate Professor of Cross‐Cultural Management and a staff member of the International Department at the Academy of Tourism, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, Breda, The Netherlands)
Herman Meulemans (Professor of Sociology, Research Centre for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (CELLO), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Publication date: 10 May 2011



Non‐discursive practices such as the economy and political constellations have always caused shifts in history. However, in the network society of today, these shifts have become omnipresent. Globalization of health and medical tourism have created a shift or rupture in the history of healthcare provision and into the lives of different stakeholders. The purpose of this paper is to detect and assess the rupture caused by global health care or medical tourism within the field of the written media, in order to define the reality of medical tourism as a trans‐historical field.


The methodology of this study comprised an extensive discourse analysis of written and new media performed over a time frame of more than a decade. Market, medical, ethical and patient discourses were detected along scientific sources, international and local newspapers.


Results indicate that a change in the market discourse has caused a shift in the attitude towards medical tourism, where ethical voices are seen as submissive to the market logic. In the current time perspective, medical tourism has become more mature with the development of non‐ethical counterparts such as organ tourism and reproductive tourism as a consequence.


The research framework shows that the general public receives a normative message from the medical tourism sector.



Mainil, T., Platenkamp, V. and Meulemans, H. (2011), "The discourse of medical tourism in the media", Tourism Review, Vol. 66 No. 1/2, pp. 31-44.

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