The Mexican border town of Mexicali is encouraging more tourists from the US and Canada to visit that city’s dentists, surgeons and doctors. Starting April 30 2012, medical tourists from the U.S. with the right documentation are able to skip much of the waiting time on the Mexican side of the border by using a new designated medical tourism lane.

Mexicali’s tourism director, Omar Dipp, said the new lane is part of the city’s plan to increase medical tourism by 50 percent.

“So you can drive to Mexicali, take care of your health, and you can only do 20 minutes to cross the border instead of two hours,” said Dipp.

Foreign patients are now allowed to request a pass from Mexican doctors who are taking part in the program. The pass, plus a doctor’s receipt and foreign license plates, allows patients access to the special lane. Once in the lane, vehicles are able to bypass the traffic on the Mexican side of the border crossing, and cut to almost the front of the line.

Dipp’s office is doing outreach in Arizona, Nevada and California to encourage more people there to visit Mexicali doctors in order to boost economic development in the city.

“The medical tourism income is really widespread; it is not just the income received by the doctors,” said Dipp, making the point that patients who come to the Mexicali area for affordable medical treatment also stay in hotels, eat in local restaurants, use taxis and attend various shows and events.

Please read Medical Tourists Speed through US Mexico Border Crossing Part 2 for more on this story.