How medical tourism can drive growth in three sectors in Egypt
With tourism and real estate sectors still suffering, Egypt is in need for a new type of ‘real estate’ products with high demand. The establishment of medical resorts in Egypt could be the solution to this problem.
By Markets Chimp
9/18/17 1:10 AM
On one hand, the tourism sector in Egypt is still suffering from the retreating number of tourists due to the security situation and the low level of services. On the other hand, the real estate sector is also suffering from low demand for housing units (from high-income segment) and hotels (due to the decrease in tourism). Therefore, we see that these vital sectors, which contribute directly to GDP growth, are in need for a new type of products with high demand. We believe the establishment of medical resorts in Egypt (at places with the suitable natural environment and competitive prices) is probably the preferred product at this stage. Indeed, Egypt is the target destination for tourists, but the political and security repercussions post the January 2011 Revolution negatively affected the sector. Egypt enjoys basic appealing features that attract tourists from all over the world. These basic features are:
1. The unique geographical location of Egypt within the world.
2. The size of monuments (one-third of world monuments) and its diversity between Islamic, Coptic, Pharaonic, and Romanian.
3. The sunny climate throughout the year.
4. The wonderful nature of beaches, mountains, and sand.
5. Low prices compared to other tourist countries.
However, the political and security situations post the January 2011 Revolution placed a noticeable negative impact on tourism revenues which declined as a percentage of GDP from 5.3% in 2009/2010 to 1.8% in 2013/2014.
Investment in Medical Tourism Supports Sector Growth
There have been efforts by the Egyptian government and the Ministry of Tourism supporting the tourism sector, specifically by investing in El Galala Mountain project. However, I believe that medical tourism in Egypt will significantly support the tourism sector due to the abovementioned basic features of Egypt in addition to its mostly renowned numerous healthy areas in nature, such as:
1. Dry climate free of moisture.
2. Wells that have mineral and sulfur water.
3. Sand and silt that contains many therapeutic elements.
4. Seas that have distinct natural properties.
Medical Tourism Is Not Only in Nature
The therapeutic nature is not the only attribute in Egypt that could attract this type of investment. It is also the low cost of hotel accommodation in health resorts compared to European countries, which is a strong incentive to attract tourists. These resorts would not necessarily specialize only in the treatment of skin diseases and rheumatism, but they can also add cosmetic surgeries which are experiencing strong growth.
What Are the Best Places for This Investment?
Sinai is considered one of the most important touristic places in the world as it enjoys all the components of tourism in terms of historical and religious monuments, as well as the climatic and environmental nature suitable for therapeutic tourism. The therapeutic places in Sinai include Pharaoh bath, Ain Moses, Ras Sedr and Natural Herbs in St. Catherine.
Safaga is located south of Hurghada; it is considered one of the most famous places in the world that treat psoriasis, rheumatoid diseases and other diseases in addition to improving general health, immunity system and blood circulation, thanks to its natural atmosphere, calm water with high salinity, black sand which is rich in mineral salts and harmless radioactive materials, and low gravity. Safaga is also characterized by therapeutic properties similar to the Dead Sea (the most famous internationally). But Safaga is characterized by the absence of the harmful side effects of treatment in the Dead Sea, such as the negative impact on blood pressure as a result of its depth below sea surface (430 meters below sea level).
Siwa is located 300 kilometers from the Mediterranean coast, south of Marsa Matrouh. It is one of the most important therapeutic tourism areas in Egypt, where there are more than 200 water wells used for irrigation, drinking, and treatment. Hot sand, which is suitable for treating many diseases, is also spread in Siwa. The cost of treatment is currently about USD40-50 per person. Siwa also features Pharaonic and Romanian monuments, gardens and safaris.
Why Do We Prefer the Investment in Medical Tourism?
World Medical Tourism Market is expected to reach USD143.8 billion by 2022 with an estimated CAGR of 20-25% (2014-2019). “The need to better understand an emerging, global, complex and rapidly changing phenomenon such as wellness and medical tourism has become essential to tap into its growth potential”, said Márcio Favilla, UNWTO Executive Director for Operational Programs and Institutional Relations.
As the tourism sector continues to suffer from the decline in the number of tourists due to the security situation and the level of services (including health care), the real estate sector is also suffering from low demand for residential, administrative and commercial units as well as hotels (due to the decline in tourism).
Therefore, these vital sectors that contribute directly to GDP growth need new products with high demand. We believe that the establishment of therapeutic resorts in Egypt in favorable places of good nature and competitive prices (compared to expensive therapeutic resorts in Europe and America) is the preferred product at this stage in Egypt.
Accordingly, if mega investments are directed to medical tourism resorts in the abovementioned areas, which are renowned for therapeutic features, along with launching a global advertising campaign to attract tourists from all over the world, tourism, health and real estate sectors are expected to witness a revival and robust growth due to the expected rising demand toward these sectors.